Ron Edmondson


Ron Edmondson

Ron Edmondson serves as the senior pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky, and has an impressive history of church planting and church growth. A nationally known Christian leader, he was raised in a Christian home and active in his home church, First Baptist Church of Clarksville, Tennessee, serving as a lay leader, deacon, Sunday School director, and teacher. After twenty years in business, including time owning an insurance agency and a small manufacturing company, Ron heard God’s call to ministry.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Ron’s strong theological background guides him to teach faithfully from Scripture. Ron identifies himself as a wisdom seeker and a teacher.

Find out more at: http://www.ronedmondson.com/about

12 Game-Changing and Tweetable Proverbs

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. – Proverbs 15:1

A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash. – Proverbs 15:14

Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success. – Proverbs 15:22

Greed brings grief to the whole family – Proverbs 15:27

Pride goes before destruction – Proverbs 16:18

Discretion is a life-giving fountain to those who possess it – Proverbs 16:22

Kind words are like honey – Proverbs 16:24

Better to be patient than powerful – Proverbs 16:32

Love prospers when a fault is forgiven. – Proverbs 17:9

A cheerful heart is good medicine. – Proverbs 17:22

Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish. – Proverbs 18:13

Enthusiasm without knowledge is no good; haste makes mistakes. – Proverbs 19:2

Which of these most speak to you?


7 Simple Leadership Tips

I have a heart for leaders. Especially church leaders. I’d love to help others learn from my mistakes. In fact, that’s a huge motivation for this blog.

With that in mind…

Here are 7 simple leadership tips:

Fight fewer battles where the win doesn’t matter as much – Okay, honestly, this is hard, because usually people are bringing the battle to you. The petty complaints. The constant grumbling. But it’s nothing new. Read the Old Testament. The key is to remember the over all vision. What’s the end goal. Go for that and don’t be distracted by the things that won’t matter in eternity.

Don’t try to duplicate as much as you emulate  – The connotation of duplicate is to be just like. With emulate, you’re trying to match the level of success, in your individual context, but not necessarily achieve it in the same way. You’ll stress less about your progress this way. Trust me.

Lead with leaders – The more you surround yourself with people capable of leading others, the greater the impact your leadership can have.

Your downtime is gold – Don’t neglect it. Discipline yourself to build sufficient rest into your schedule.

Think marathon not sprint – You will have bad days. There will be critics. You will send a dumb email. You will say the wrong thing. You will plan a project that bombs. On those days, remind yourself of the bigger vision. Regroup. Rest. Recharge. Go at it again tomorrow.

Stop trying to control – You’ll seldom be able to anyway. When you do, people will either rebel or never live up to their potential. Control the vision, but almost everything else you can release to the people around you.

Be authentic – Not partially authentic. Be totally authentic. People will trust you more if you are who you claim to be… always. Don’t try to make yourself bigger than you are. People can easily spot the margin between the portrayed you and the real you. And, the greater the margin the less you’ll build trust in those you hope will follow.

Any simple tips you would add?


9 Great Ways to Be Extremely Strange

Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and temporary residents…

(1 Peter 2:11)

9 great ways to be extremely strange:

Love – Loving others even when others may seem unlovable.

Joy – Being joyful, in spite of the circumstances around you.

Peace – Providing a calming peace to those around you.

Patience – Demonstrating patience even in chaos.

Kindness – Being kind to one another, even when others aren’t so kind.

Goodness – Not advocating perfection, but genuinely striving to be a better person and serving as a witness to that endeavor for others.

Faithfulness – Standing firm with loyalty and commitment to Christ, even when others are rejecting what’s true.

Gentleness – Not wimpy, but carefully balancing strength and truth with grace and love.

Self-Control – Disciplining self to live out a strange kind of life, often sacrificing what’s temporary for what is eternal.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

(Galatians 5:22–23)


5 Principles of Making Disciples and Enabling Spiritual Growth

Spiritual growth of believers should be the goal of any church. We are to reach unbelievers and introduce them to Christ, but the end goal according to the command of Jesus is making disciples. It would even make sense then, that as much as we count the offering or attendance on Sundays, if we want to know we are being successful as a church, we have to somehow “count” our success at making disciples.

Yet spiritual growth is a difficult subject and can be hard to measure, because a church can offer the same ministries and attention to the same group of people and get extremely different results.

Right now there are people in my church at 3 stages of spiritual growth:

  • Those that need to mature and are not maturing.
  • Those that need to mature and have stalled.
  • Those that need to mature and are maturing.

I suggest the same is true of your church. We rejoice in the last one. We all need to mature. We love when it happens. If we are not careful, however, we can allow the first two groups of people to discourage us and make us believe we are not doing what God has called us to do as a church.

How can we know we are growing people spiritually?

I don’t know that we can ever know as clearly numerically as we do with attendance or contributions. But I think there are principles that can help us know we are on the right track to building disciples, for each of the three groups mentioned above. These principles, when understood, can bring a sense of clarity as to whether we are truly realizing the mission of the church.

Here are 5 principles to understanding the process of spiritual growth:

Growth is possible. Every believer has an opportunity and potential to experience spiritual growth. God wants to mature all believers. No one is left out of that plan. If someone is not growing spiritually, there is a reason. Either they haven’t been discipled or they haven’t responded to the opportunities they’ve been given to grow, but opportunity exists for all believers.

People are responsible for their spiritual growth. I am responsible to lead a church that shepherds them, encourages them, instructs and teaches them, but ultimately the believer holds the responsibility of their own growth. That’s a freeing principle, because it keeps me responsible for what I can do, but releases me of the burden of what I can’t do. I can create environments that help people grow, but I can’t make them grow.

Growth occurs best in community. The best spiritual growth in my life and in the life of others I have observed occurs when people are in committed, healthy and intentional relationships with other believers wanting to mature. Iron does sharpen iron. Disciples make disciples. It was the method Jesus used to create disciples. He spent time with His disciples. (At the same time, I have been in groups where some are growing and some are not, but that goes back to principle number two. Remember Judas?) As much as I can, I need to help people who want to grow spiritually spend time with others who want to grow and are growing spiritually. I can then give them tools to use where there time together is suitable for discipleship.

Developing a person’s desire for spiritual growth is key. When a person gets excited about his or her personal walk with Christ, they will want to get to know Christ better. The more they know Christ the more they will want to be like Him. The more people want to be like Christ the more likely they will be to assume ownership of their spiritual growth. So motivating people for the desire to grow becomes a key element in discipleship. This may be done by sharing stories of others who have grown, helping people understand their potential, or continually casting the vision for spiritual growth and maturity, but creating a desire to grow becomes a key goal in disciple-making.

The goal of the teacher/leader of spiritual growth should be to enable people to achieve spiritual growth. Knowing that people are responsible for their growth, and that I can only create environments where that can best happen, helps shape where I spend my efforts in discipleship. Our goal as spiritual leaders should be to introduce people to Christ and God’s Spirit, teach them the truths of faith, and then release them to serve, mature and grow in their spiritual life.

Please understand this is not a formula and principles are not foolproof. I believe, however, that understanding these principles can help us see the process of discipleship as something doable, even “measurable,” if we continually strive to create environments conducive for spiritual growth to occur.


10 Considerations for Understanding Biblical Faith

Are you struggling to understand faith? 

To understand faith I always have to put it in terms of a relationship. When we speak of a Biblical faith, we are speaking in terms of having faith… trusting… based upon our relationship with God through His son, Jesus Christ.

With that in mind…based on my understanding of Scripture

Here are 10 considerations of understanding Biblical faith:

1. Faith is defined for us as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1-2)

2. Faith believes even when it makes no sense to believe, not because of the proof before you, but because of the trust you place in the object of your faith.

3. Faith is based on the will of that person in whom you place your faith, not my will. You can have faith that the person you love most will never hurt you, for example, but whether they do or not is up to their will, not yours.

4. Biblical faith is in a person, the person of God. (God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit… they are One.) Faith is not in me or my abilities, but on God and His abilities.

5. When Jesus used the illustration of moving mountains He was giving an example of the power of God and how we should place our whole faith in Him. He was not talking about the power of my ability to have faith, but rather the power of the One in whom we place our faith. If God’s will is to move a mountain, He will surely move it. You can even ask Him to by faith. (Remember, Jesus also said, “apart from me you can do nothing.”)

6. When we talk about faith in God then, we are talking about His will, not our will. That’s how Jesus taught us to pray…. “Our Father, who is in Heaven… thy will be done….” Faith is based on God’s agenda, not my agenda. It’s not your ability to move mountains. It is God’s ability. It’s not your will to move mountains; it’s God’s will.

7. Faith is based on the promises of God, not our hopes or desires. When you struggle with faith, you don’t doubt your ability; you doubt God’s ability. Sometimes we get upset that God hasn’t done something we think He should do, but God never promised to do it. It may have never have been His will.

8. When you pray by faith then, you are praying that you trust God to do His will in your life, based not on your wishes or desires, but on what He has promised to do. Some things we can always have faith that God will do, because he has promised to do them, such as “love you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3), “work all things for good” (Romans 8:28), and “never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:8). We can’t always know that God will heal every sickness, for example, because He’s not promised that He will. In fact, He promised we would have trials, but that throughout it all we could rejoice in our sufferings.

9. God is trustworthy… worthy of our faith. I love how The Message Version puts 1 Thessalonians 5:24, “The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he’ll do it!” Do what? His will. Faith in the person of God is based then on your trust that He is who He says He is and He will do what He says He will do.

10. When your faith lines up with God’s will, you can absolutely, positively, unquestionably claim by faith that God’s will be done. One of the reasons it is so important to know God personally is so that we will know His will, so we can know how to pray in God’s will (Romans 12:1-2).

What would you add in understanding Biblical faith?

(This is a revision of a previous post.)


Facing Fear with Faith

Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.” But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.” Genesis 18:15 NIV

Sarah couldn’t believe God’s plan for her life was to have a child. So she laughed at His plan.

She was too old. It had been so long. Could God do this? Would God even use someone like her for such a plan?

It was probably scary to simply trust by faith… she had been disappointed many times… she didn’t want to hurt again… so she laughed.

Sarah’s probably not alone in her fear. Was she?

I’ve had those kinds of fears. Many times.

Chances are you have also. You know God is calling you to do something, but the thought of actually obeying God in the matter freaks you out… scares you to death. You know what it’s like to fail. You don’t feel you have what it takes. Could God do this? Would He do it with you?

Walk by faith… or laugh at the plan? Trust or run. Face fears or fold to them. Those are your options.

But know this…

Faith believes something that you cannot see.

The unseen or unknown is scary, so fear is a natural reaction to God’s plan for your life. God calls us to the unknown. God is always calling us to the unknown. His ways are not our ways. His plans are usually larger than we have imagined. God calls us to walk by faith, facing something we cannot see, and that in turn brings fear into our hearts.

So, what’s the fear that will require faith for you to accomplish?

Perhaps there is a better question:

If you are obedient, what kind of glory will God receive through your faith in Him?

Don’t laugh at what you sense God is calling you to do (or at least not for long). God calls people to tasks beyond our ability or understanding everyday! Maybe this is your day!

Walk closer to faith than fear. I’m praying for you.


Ron Edmondson serves as the senior pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. Find out more at: http://www.ronedmondson.com/about


Why Christmas?

But your iniquities have separated you from your God, your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. (Isaiah 59:2 NIV)

Why do we need Christmas? Have you ever thought about that question? Probably not! If the truth be known, you, like me, are just so busy “doing” Christmas, and enjoying it too, that you haven’t stopped to consider the reason for the celebration.

Now, I am not talking about the “reason for the season.” You have no doubt seen and heard that. People have been wearing pins with that on it for two weeks and you know that it is to celebrate the birth of a Savior, but why did He need to be born?

Here’s why (and, please, don’t miss this point this Christmas season): We need Christmas because without it we are going to Hell! Now you’re thinking, “What does Hell have to do with Christmas?”.

Without Christmas, without the baby in a manger, the virgin birth, the shepherds in the field at night, the presents wrapped, the bills to be paid, the parties to attend, the expanded waistline…. Okay… you get the idea… without all the neat things that make Christmas what Christmas is, we would be eternally lost. See, all of us are lost, without hope, because we all have sin in our life. We are born into sin and can do nothing to rid ourselves of the sin habit.

God is Holy, as you know, and so He cannot tolerate any sin. None! He will not hear us through our sin, and so, if we remain in our sin, we remain forever separated from God.

But then there is Christmas, Praise God! Jesus did come on that dark night some 2000 years ago! He came so that through Him we can be saved, completely forgiven of our sins, and enter the presence of a Holy God!

There is a Christmas! We need Christmas! Thank God for Christmas today!


Check out our Christmas Facebook page at www.facebook.com/LuvChristmas.


We Need a Labor Day -- Frequently

The title of the day has always confused me. It’s called Labor Day and yet it’s supposed to be a break from our labor.

And, of course, some will work today. When I was in retail this was a busy day. Thank you to our emergency personnel and hospital workers and those that keep our commerce and lifestyles going today.

But, something tells me you need the day off — or a day off — as much as I do. If there is anything Americans are not good at its rest. It might be the one command of the 10 commandments we dishonor the most.

I wonder if that’s one reason we are so tense with each other all the time — but, I’ll save that thought for another post.

I read the following in this mornings Denison report:

Americans work too much. In the U.S., 85.8 percent of men and 66.5 percent of women work more than 40 hours per week. We work 100 more hours per year than the Japanese, and 250 more hours per year than the British. What about the work-obsessed Germans? We work 500 more hours per year than they do. We take less vacation time than other nations, work longer days, and retire later. If anyone needs a Labor Day to cease from labor, it’s us.

(I highly recommend the Denison Report as a resource for pastors.)

Saddest of all — we often celebrate it as “the American Way”. We call it progress. Efficiency.

But, it may be causing more harm than good. Personally and collectively.

If I’m going to write a post like this I have to point four fingers back any direction I point one finger to others. I could easily be accused of being a workaholic.

Years ago, however, I learned a secret. It’s a secret about myself I believe is probably a secret about you. If I will shut down one day – and periodically shut down for several days – I am far more effective when I am working. It’s a key to long-term success.

When I go to long periods without resting I am more tempted towards burnout, anxiety, and even depression. I’m not as much fun to be around and I worry more than I pray. (Again, could this be a reason we are so tense with each other at times? — again, another post.)

It’s like God knew what He was doing when He issued the command.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m still very much American when it comes to my work ethic. I work far more than 40 hours a week. But, when I shut down – – I try to shut down. I’m not perfect at it (and I have to write this in case my wife still reads this blog), but I’m getting better with age.

Do you need a break? Do you need to invest in yourself?

I highly recommend the practice. Even if you have to work today – schedule your own “Labor Day” soon – and often.

And, I can’t even take credit for the idea.


Ron Edmondson pastors Immanuel Baptist Church. Find out more at: http://www.ronedmondson.com/about


12 Ways Christians Can be Less Mean

I wrote a post recently encouraging Christians to be less mean—especially online. It was called “When Did Christians Become So Mean?

It seems to me, we’ve lost some of our civility when it comes to what we post on social media. We are quick to blast a company that we feel has wronged us. We criticize people — right on their Facebook page. We load the comments of a blog post with crushing blows.

Surely you’ve seen it. The web has made it much easier to be a critic.

But, it’s also in public. I’ve seen Christians I know act like jerks in a restaurant or grocery store. I consistently hear of bosses who serve smiling on Sunday but are mean to employees during the week.

It all has to hurt our witness as Christians.

The post got a little attention.

Actually, some people, proved the need for the post by the way they responded. :)

Still others asked for some suggestions of how we could improve—some even wanted examples.

I decided not to share specific examples. In my opinion, that would be mean. So, you’re meanness will remain anonymous in this post. If you are mean, most likely others already know your name.

I did decide to share some ways we can be “less mean” online.

Here are a dozen suggestions:

Consider others better than yourself. (Philippians 2:3)

Forgive one another. (Ephesians 4:32)

Love one another. (John 13:34)

Be kind and compassionate to one another. (Ephesians 4:32)

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. (James 1:19)

Treat others as you would want to be treated. (Luke 6:31)

Have the mind of Christ. (Philippians 2:5)

Remember kindness leads to repentance. (Romans 2:4)

Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. (Psalm 34:13)

Honor everyone. (1 Peter 2:17)

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. (Ephesians 4:29)

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10)

Just a few of those should improve the quality of our online involvement.

And, finally, a bonus one:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:12–14)

Those are some of my suggestions.

Got any others?


Ron Edmondson pastors Immanuel Baptist Church. Find out more at: http://www.ronedmondson.com/about


7 Things You Need to Know about Your Husband

I recently wrote a post about 7 things you may not know about your wife. It was a popular post and I committed to write a companion post for the wives.

Here are 7 things wives need to know — but may not know — about your husband:

His ego is more fragile than you imagined. I know, you’re probably tired of hearing about the male ego. I get it. But it hasn’t gone away, and, frankly, the world isn’t too kind on our ego. We see the jokes on every sitcom and commercial about how inadequate we are at times. But there’s not a man with a soul that’s alive that doesn’t want to be admired by the woman in his life. Not one.

He is very visual. Very. More than you are probably thinking. You see his eyes roam. That’s a natural reaction for him. Now, he has responsibility over his eyes—not the girl who attracted them—but if there’s a pretty girl around, he probably saw her long before you did. And he likely battles staring more than you will ever understand.

He doesn’t want you to be his mother. You can say “ouch!” if you need to, but men want a wife, not a mom. I hear this from men frequently—especially young men. If you’re a mom they want you to be a great mom—just not theirs. I know we need mothering sometimes. All of us do. We may even act like big babies at times. But mothering a husband never works. Ever. Be our partner. Our best friend. Not our mother.

When you correct him you hurt him. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t need correcting. He might. But the way you do this is huge. Your respect for him is huge for him. His greatest emotional need. That could be in how he fixes the bed—or the fact that he doesn’t—or for things far worse. If he senses you are talking down to him—not respecting him—he may comply with your wishes in actions (or not), but inside his heart will be growing colder towards you.

He loves you uniquely. He probably won’t love you all the ways you expect him to love. And, frankly, he won’t be all the love you need him to be. He may not always feel love as an emotion as strongly as you do. Your heart is capable of much more than he can fill completely. There will be times—hopefully even seasons when he does—but no man will meet every need of your heart. (Other than the man Jesus.)

What he does really is who he is many times. It’s his identity. If it’s golf, his career, fishing, antique cars or his extensive comic book collection—that’s a part of him. When you miss that or don’t value it, he may feel like less of a man.

He probably thinks you’re more wonderful than you think he does. And he has a strong desire to protect you because of it. He sees all you are capable of doing. He wonders how you keep up with everyone and everything as you do. He may even envy that about you. He respects you—probably more than he knows how to communicate to you.

Guys, anything you would add?


Ron Edmondson pastors Immanuel Baptist Church. Find out more at: http://www.ronedmondson.com/about


7 Things You Need to Know about Your Wife

Guys, can I be honest with you? Marriage can be hard.

Did you know that already?

Sometimes you do the wrong thing before you even knew you did the wrong thing. You try to figure out the one you love the most, but the more you try the more confused you get. I get it. I understand.

Men and women are different. (You can tweet that.)

We don’t always think and respond to life the same way.

And likely there are some things about your wife you just didn’t know.

Over the years, through counseling training and actual counseling—and learning from my wife—I’ve observed some things. And I’ve realized some men simply don’t know them—or don’t realize how important they are to their wife.

Here are 7 things you may not know but you need to know about your wife:

You step on her feelings more than you know.

You just do. And you don’t even mean to—or know that you are most of the time. She may think you do, but you don’t. You’re just not as aware of how she’s wired emotionally. And most of the time she overlooks it. She knows it wasn’t intentional. But it hurts. And the more you do it the more it hurts. So, be careful with your words.

And that leads to the next one.

Your words are heavier than you think they are.

You need to know that. When she asks you how she looks, for example—yes, it is a quandary on how to respond, and there are plenty of jokes around about that dilemma—but your response matters. Probably more than any other response of her day. It’s a small question to you but big question for her. And you communicate things to her continually through how you say what you say and the body language you combine with your words. And they weigh a ton to her. A ton.

She wants you to take the lead.

At least occasionally. I know all the women’s rights issues cloud this for you. It can be confusing, but there’s likely something in your wife just waiting for you to make a decision. She values your input, and she wants you to lead in the home as well as she sees that you can lead elsewhere. And speaking on behalf of men, I know you don’t always want to be the leader. She’s better at making many of the decisions than you are. Still, she’s waiting—hoping, that you’ll step up where you need to lead.

She doesn’t want to be like her mother.

Or to be compared to her mother. And these type jokes aren’t funny. Ever. Trust me. In fact, she doesn’t want to be like any other woman either. She wants to be seen for the unique wonder she is—which, by the way, was God-designed.

She is likely with you even when she’s not.

At least in her mind. Our wives are very relational. So, if she asks about your calendar, now you know. She’s not trying to be difficult or suspicious. She’s trying to be with the one she loves.

It’s okay just to hold her hand.

And, also, to occasionally be romantic. You may have established a long time ago that you’re not the romantic type. She may realize she married funny—or serious—or dedicated—more than romantic. But every woman needs a little romance occasionally. It makes her feel special—especially when it comes from you.

The way her world looks is often how her heart feels.

All her world. The house, for example, you think it doesn’t matter, but to her it reflects her—not you. She’s also conscious of what others think of her appearance. She carries this burden heavier than she wants to sometimes. Don’t diminish this to her. Understand it.

In a future post, I’ll share the companion post for wives to understand.


Ron Edmondson pastors Immanuel Baptist Church. Find out more at: http://www.ronedmondson.com/about


10 Ideas for Raising Children to Become Generous Adults

I have had conflict most of my life between what I think I want and what I really need.

Most people share this conflict with me.

That conflict also appears in our children as well.

We don’t have to teach children to struggle with determining between wants and needs. It’s a natural response to life. And, if they need any help doing so—they can easily learn the struggle from us.

As parents we are the primary shapers of our children’s attitudes towards money, things, and desires. Our children will either be “givers” or “takers” in society, and that will be greatly influenced by the life they live in our home.

How do we raise generous children?

How do we help our children (and ultimately ourselves) be people who genuinely enjoy living sacrificial lives—considering the interest of others—being givers rather than takers as the Bible commands us to do?

Here are 10 tips which we tried to practice in our own home. It has been amazing to watch our boys, now young adults on their own, having developed generous hearts towards others. They are far more generous than I was at their age.

And let me be clear. The fact that they turned out that way is all grace. God has blessed us greatly. But we have been intentional to live out Biblical principles—and we have learned that they work when applied “generously”.

Here are 10 ideas for raising children to be generous adults:

Have fun and be generous parents.

The story is told of Jesus and the disciples attending a wedding. The party had been going for a while when something tragic happened. They ran out of wine. That was a serious problem to the host of the party. It was a huge cultural embarrassment to run out of food or wine. Jesus took some big barrels of water and turned them into the best wine the people had that night. The people were overwhelmed.

The Bible says that was the very first miracle Jesus ever did. As culturally important as weddings were in those days, it still sounds like God met a want, rather than a need.

It is very clear that God is not trying to keep us from having what we want or from having fun in life. God is not opposed to blessing us with things we want, but may not even need. We should not be afraid to do the same with our children. If we can afford to, and if our children are living within the boundaries set for our home, we should not be afraid to give them gifts they simply want, but may not even need. (I thought I would start with an easy one first.)

Help children understand the difference between a need and a want.

It is understandable why it is difficult to raise children who understand the difference between a need and a want when we as parents struggle with the same issues. This will take a lifetime of teaching.

As much as God wants to bless us with wants, if we study the Bible, God seems far more interested in helping fulfill our needs than He does in giving us everything we want. In fact, God never promises to provide our want list, yet He does promise to meet all our needs (Philippians 4:19). Granted there are some that take verses like this out of context and teach that God gives us everything we ask for, but that doesn’t line up with the rest of Scripture.

The problem from a Biblical perspective is that we have a messed up system of determining need versus want. That thing inside us that chooses good over evil, better or best, need versus wants, is broken.

When we apply Biblical understanding, most actual needs go beyond just enjoyment for today or even just for me. For something to fall into the category of need, it should provide some lasting value to society or at least to my own character. Needs, beyond basics such as food and water, become things like righteousness—and love, and joy, and peace, and contentment.

We can even ask ourselves, does this “thing” benefit someone more than just me? Does it add value to someone’s life or to my own character? A true need, in this context, almost becomes something that money cannot buy.

We should consistently invest Biblical principles into our children—helping them understand the things that matter to God. Helping children develop a hunger for things they need—as much as, or even more—than things they want.

Provide needs. Bless with wants.

It is important that parents consider their system of meeting needs versus wants. Of course, that begins with a proper understanding ourselves of needs versus wants.

Consider this question: Which gets more attention in your home?

Does having the latest technology take a bigger role than teaching children to be good citizens and to generously love others?

Does being the best on the traveling soccer or dance team have a higher priority than finding ways to serve others?

Either answer is your choice—you’re the parent, but if a goal is raising future generous adults—you may have to consider some of the places you spend your energies and resources. When it comes to encouraging generosity, consideration should be given to use of time and money.

Our boys never did without basics needs. And by needs here I’m even referring to housing, clothing, food, etc. They had plenty. But there were probably things they wanted that they didn’t have. In how they spent their time, we let them choose what they enjoyed doing, but we also limited the number of outside activities our boys could participate in at one time.

And we looked for opportunities where we could give back to others. We prioritized our time. And we prioritized our “stuff.” We didn’t try to keep up with everyone else in terms of the “toys” they had. Having to wait until a birthday or Christmas for something they really wanted wasn’t unusual to them.

Help children make wise choices with their own money.

One of the primary reasons children should have access to their own money is so they can learn the value of it. Our children were always more careful spending “their” money than they are spending ours.

Talk with them about how they should spend their allowance, birthday, or even money they have earned on their own. Help them learn what the terms budget—and savings—and investment. And tithe is still not a bad word either. Ultimately, they should give some to God, save some, and spend some for things they need or want (based on the system you have for meeting these in your home).

We also freely discussed our own finances in front of our boys. We allowed them to know things like when things were tight financially and when we were giving to others.

Consider the “big picture” of your child’s life.

As a parent, we are a primary molder of our children. The choices they make in life—what they desire most—will largely be impacted by us early in their life. Their desires in life will be greatly shaped by the life they live in our home. (That’s a scary thought—isn’t it?)

I heard a statistic once that children these days get 90% of everything they want in life. That doesn’t seem like the statistic for most of our adult want lists, does it? I can’t verify the statistic, but it sounds about right for most children I know—probably even for our own. The problem this creates is that somewhere children are going to face a stark reality in adulthood—when we seldom have all that we “want.”

We have all heard stories of children of privilege who got everything they wanted in life, but who cannot seem to stay out of trouble as adults. They have no real sense of direction—no set of values to guide them—because they got everything they wanted in life, but nothing that they really needed!

We kept these principles in mind as we parented. We were raising them to be adults. That one thought changed our paradigm many times.

Spend more time, energy, and attention meeting needs than wants.

At Christmas time, birthdays, and other special occasions we ask children what they “want.” There is nothing wrong with that.

Most of the time we already know what they need. We don’t have to ask them if they need to be honest people. We don’t have to ask them if they need to have character, love others, or be generous. We do not need to ask them if they need a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We know they need those things.

We need to ask ourselves if we are spending as much time and energy helping them get what they need as we are trying to buy them what they want. Let’s be honest, providing for a want is more fun sometimes. But we must be willing to sacrifice even what makes us feel good as parents in order to do what is best for our children long-term. We need to give them what they need.

It’s much more fun to give them wants, but it is far more valuable to give them needs.

Model healthy personal choices between needs and wants.

I think we teach our children to value the need more than the want by first modeling it for them.

We cannot ask children to do something we are not willing to do ourselves. Children are smarter than that. Today’s generation is far more interested in truth and integrity than earlier generations. This generation despises hypocrisy.

If children see parents saying one thing and doing another, they will reject that as being truth. We need to model and teach our children the proper concepts concerning money. Ultimately teach them that we are to be responsible with what God has allowed us to have. (When we had to use our credit card for purchases, for example, we usually explained to them why and that we would be paying it off quickly.)

Children need to see their parents giving sacrificially of their time and resources. Volunteering at a soup kitchen may be a better activity for an upcoming special occasion than opening a bunch of gifts.

Keep children properly grounded in a material world.

Children need to know that the universe does not revolve around them. Our world as their parents may revolve around them, but the rest of the world thinks otherwise. Children need to have created times in their life where they have to wait for something they want. Teach and model for children a life that puts others needs and wants ahead of their own.

Don’t give children everything; even if you can afford it.

If children are encouraged by example to have a love of money—a love of stuff—chances are they will never have enough possessions in this world to be satisfied. (Read Ecclesiastes 5:10.)

Plant within them a love of God, a love of people and a love of life and they will want to bless others—and the joy of their life will be much greater.

Regardless of how wealthy a family is, children should not be so “privileged” that there are no longer any items on their “want” list. When this happens the child has a hard time developing a heart of giving, because they are often too consumed with acquiring more “stuff.”

We have to model simple living sometimes for our children. IT IS OKAY TO SAY NO TO YOUR CHILD! In fact, that may sometimes be the exact thing we need to say. Every trip to the mall should not produce a new toy! (Okay, I know number 9 hurts!)

Teach and model a love for God.

Above all else, perhaps the greatest thing a parent can do to help children be generous people is to help them desire the things of God more than the things of this world. God is a generous God. The more we know and love Him, the more generous we become.

Parenting is hard. And we all make mistakes. Here’s a prayer your way. Be intentional. We need great parents. We need generous people.


Ron Edmondson pastors Immanuel Baptist Church. Find out more at: http://www.ronedmondson.com/about