I'm pretty sure the "Mine" stage is a scientifically supported stage of development for children. They all go through it. For some (dare I say "most"?), however, this stage extends far into adulthood and consumes many people's lives. It's not really a stage at all, more of a socially acceptable way of thinking. Most of us, as adults, just learn enough social graces to not shout MINE! at the top of our lungs when someone wants to mess with our stuff.
We work hard for our stuff. We're not sure others will take care of it if they borrow it. We're not sure there will be enough for us if we share it.
- It's my house.
- It's my car.
- It's my food.
- It's my computer.
- It's my money.
I might be willing to share a little. But only on my terms and don't ask too much. Because it's mine, remember? Go get your own!
Of course we never say that. But most of us live that way...Painstakingly guarding that which rightfully belongs to us. And nobody around us really notices, because they, of course, are busy protecting what belongs to them.
While this may be the norm in our culture, it is far from Biblical. The early church shared EVERYTHING. If there was ever someone in need among them, someone else would meet that need, even if that meant they had to go sell a piece of their property to have the money to do it.
This is something we try to drill into our kids' heads. By our example, by our language, and by our requirements of them.
- If Andy is going to be out of town for the week, there is typically someone we know that could benefit from borrowing his car. We're happy to do that.
- When we were blessed to be able to purchase a new vehicle, we gave away our last one. Let me be honest, it was not very nice. Actually the kind of car you feel bad about giving to someone. But it met a need for a little while.
- When we see a need that we have the capacity to meet, we try our best to jump in and do it, even if it comes with personal sacrifice involved.
- When the Mine issue comes up, we often say, "Nothing in this world belongs to us. Everything that we have is a gift from God. He's given us so much so we are happy to share it with others."
- A shorter phrase that you could hear me say (probably multiple times a day) is, "In our family, we share." It's part of what it means to be a Wood.
Our Requirements of them:
- We're not real big on identifying which toy belongs to which child. Sure, certain toys were given to a certain child for a birthday or Christmas, but once the toy is in the house it is a shared possession. We have guidelines for possessions that could be damaged by a younger sibling, but we don't typically give anyone the authority to say "That's my favorite car. You can't play with it." In our family, we share.
- Also, an unwillingness to share with friends or siblings is simply not tolerated. It's not something that we're going to have a long, heartfelt discussion over on a counselor's couch. I'm not going to try to coax him into giving another child a turn with the soccer ball by telling him how good it feels to share. No. We share. That's what we do. Whether it feels good or not, it's the right thing to do.
You know why "Mine" is one of the first words a child can say? Because it's part of our DNA to be selfish. If a newborn could speak, he would say "Mine" right along with the rest of us. To live the way Jesus wants us to live (with open hands instead of clinched fists) we have got to make some very intentional lifestyle choices.
Generosity brings blessing and joy. Greed brings anxiety and isolation.
What can you share or give away today?