“Whoever loves money never has enough. Whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless. As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owners except to feast their eyes on them? The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether they eat little or much, but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep.”
Those are the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 4:10-12. The simple point – material possessions do not make life easier or better. Certainly, there is no shame in enjoying blessings. In fact, later in this same chapter Solomon says as much. But the problem is when we make it all about the material possessions. We lose our ability to focus on the things that really matter in life, and we lose our focus on Christ and his salvation and living for him.
The thing is, a bad habit of being too focused on material things can start early on, and it starts with us as parents and how we relate to our kids. Charles Fay, from the Love and Logic Institute, has some thoughts on how this affects kids and what to do about it:
Prior to the 1950s most American children grew up without many of the things they wanted. Because of this, most imagined what it might be like to someday struggle above their meager circumstances and “arrive” at a more comfortable standard of living. Getting a good education was seen as the primary vehicle for attaining this dream. Over the last five decades, the amount of unneeded stuff possessed by many American children has dramatically squelched this dreaming process. There’s no need to dream or work toward things you already have.In my book, From Bad Grades to a Great Life, I share the most important things we can do to prevent Affluence Distraction Disorder:
- Spend as much time as possible with our kids.
- Play with them.
- Listen to them.
- Comfort them when they are hurting.
- Rejoice with them when they are glad.
- Enjoy them with all of our hearts.
- Teach them to spend less than they make.
- Show them how to base their happiness on relationships not retail goods.When children have parents who give the greatest gifts…their love and their time…they don’t care as much about having lots of expensive stuff.
Charles Fay doesn’t touch in this article on the spiritual issues, but certainly it is not hard to see them. Children who become obsesses with the stuff they have are just as prone as we adults are to lose focus on their Savior. Then we see them react negatively to devotion, to prayer, to church, and to time spent in his Word, and we see them resisting doing what’s right.
The good thing is that you can take all of Fay’s suggestions and build in spiritual ties as well. Fight against materialism in yourself and in your children, and help them grow up to value you – and more importantly Jesus – above all earthly goods.