When our children learn to live generously, they become world changers in a changing world.

The Beauty of Sacrifice and the Joy of Giving

It’s the terminal milestone on the parenting journey:

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” III John 4

Even so, there are a good many ways of measuring its achievement. It’s what we aim for and pray for, but how do we know that are children have made the leap from following their parents’ faith to actually “walking in truth” on their own?

Kristen Welch would argue for two measuring sticks:  Gratitude and Generosity. In her first parenting book, Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World: How One Family Learned That Saying No Can Lead to Life’s Biggest Yes she reminds readers that if we want our children to appreciate their blessings and to operate out of gratitude rather than entitlement, we had better be modeling the right heart attitude ourselves. One of the ways we (and our children) demonstrate our gratitude and our biblical understanding of the role our possessions and our bank accounts play in our lives is by holding them with an open hand.

In Raising World Changers in a Changing World: How One Family Discovered the Beauty of Sacrifice and the Joy of Giving, she follows up that initial message with stories from her experience in establishing and operating Mercy House, “a ministry that exists to engage, empower, and disciple women around the globe in Jesus’ name.” As her family has traveled to strategic locations, they have seen poverty and suffering first hand, and they have been changed by it. Even as their efforts make small but measurable changes in the world, they are learning the impact that being a World Changer can make upon an entire family as they share their parents with others, welcome visitors into their homes, and give up their rooms for long-term guests who need a place to stay.

The backstory Welch shares is that “the beauty of sacrifice and the joy of giving” can also wear a family thin like an over-used dish rag. Therefore, it’s important to develop family-care strategies, open communication, and healthy boundaries to provide respite and privacy for a family of World Changers.

We Are Where We Are for a Reason

The Welch’s story began with a question, posed by a young Kenyan teen to Kristen’s daughter Madison:

“Why do you think that I was born here in Kenya and you were born in America?”

She might as well have asked, “Why was I chosen for a life of suffering and you for a life of privilege?” Madison’s answer was perfect:  “Maybe I was born in American and you were born here because I’m supposed to help you.”

The point of Mercy House ministries and Kristen Welch’s writing is to float before North American Christians the consequential truth that we are where we are for a reason. (21) God, the Greatest Giver, has strategically placed His people with our spiritual and material abundance to respond to the needs and the suffering of others.

“In economic terms the global North (United States, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand)–with one quarter of the world’s population–controls four-fifths of the income earned anywhere in the world. Inversely, the global South (every other country)–with three quarters of the world’s population–has access to one-fifth of the world’s income.” (51)

Four Ways to Live Generously

The Welch family has learned how to become a bridge. They straddle continents to connect the resources of the haves to the great and glaring needs of the have-nots. The truth is, however, that every believer can be a bridge right in our own homes, communities, and churches:

  1. See the people around you. This requires more than just observing people; it means stopping to notice them.
  2. Spot the needs in others’ lives.
  3. Scatter kindness by donating a meal, offering childcare, or providing needed transportation.
  4. Start over with number one. When we make this a way of life, it changes everything.  (55)

This practical giving is how we love others well, and Welch ends each chapter with a set of tips for practicing generosity. Some are exceedingly mundane such as hosting house guests and asking kids to give up their rooms or paying it forward at the drive up. Others are more philosophical and poke us in the reasons we do what we do such as letting our kids fail as a natural consequence or giving our time away without complaining.

Another practical feature at the end of each chapter is a set of questions to stimulate World Changing conversations around a dining room table or in the mini-van on the way to band practice. The questions come pre-test-driven as Kristen provided her own children’s answers to queries including:

What do you value most?
How can parents encourage kids to grow?
Why do you think some people have enough food and some people don’t?

The role of a parent who wants to raise World Changers can feel very risky. We want our kids to be happy, comfortable, and safe. However, if we shield them from reality and protect them from life, we train them to live small and to take shortcuts. The providence of God is equal to anything our children encounter as they serve God, and John Piper uses Scriptural stories to back up this line of reasoning:

“Life is not a straight line leading from one blessing to the next and then finally to heaven. Life is a winding and troubled road. Switchback after switchback. And the point of biblical stories like Joseph and Job and Esther and Ruth is to help us feel in our bones (not just know in our heads) that God is for us in all these strange turns. God is not just showing up after the trouble and cleaning it up. He is plotting the course and managing the troubles with far-reaching purposes for our good and for the glory of Jesus Christ.” (140)

Raising World Changers in a Changing World is not merely a book for privileged Americans about giving back. It’s a book for the rich and the poor, the haves and the have-nots about “giving it all.” (163) If we agree with the premise that God has placed us where we are for a reason, the blessings God heaps upon us are not merely to change our own lifestyle. God may be calling you and your family to change a life. He may be calling you to change the world.

Many thanks to Baker Books for providing this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with complete honesty.

I  am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. If you should decide to purchase Raising World Changers in a Changing World: How One Family Discovered the Beauty of Sacrifice and the Joy of Giving or Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World: How One Family Learned That Saying No Can Lead to Life’s Biggest Yes, simply click on the title (or the image) here or within the text, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Blessings to you and your World-Changing Family!

If you enjoy reading Living Our Days, subscribe to get regular content delivered to your inbox. Just enter your e-mail address in the field at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging communities on a regular basis. They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week. I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.

47 thoughts on “The Beauty of Sacrifice and the Joy of Giving”

  1. Both books look very appealing. When I was teaching, I was always amazed at the many ways teenagers acted in unselfish and compassionate ways without prompting. This summer, my two little grandsons (6 and 4) have asked to go along with me as I deliver Meals on Wheels. They love carrying the food to the recipients’ doors, and I believe it teaches a good lesson (even though it means getting the 4-year-old out of his car seat about 20 times along the route – ouch! My back!) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So much truth here. This line struck me most…when she talked about bank accounts and “holding them with an open hand.” It made me think of a quote I read by Corrie Ten Boom that said something like this, “Hold possessions loosely; that way it won’t hurt as much when God wrenches them from our grasp.” Oh, the truth in that! I am learning firsthand just how much I do tend to cling to things as God continually asks us to minimize our lives and become ever more eternity-focused. Thanks for sharing about this wonderful sounding book!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love how practical her books are. I haven’t read her latest, but it sounds great. Did you read her first book, Rhinestone Jesus? I loved it and read it in just a few days. It is less “practical” and family oriented, but a beautiful read about our faith in Jesus.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I have followed Kristen Welch for awhile and read her first book, Rhinestone Jesus. Her mission and ministry is one that blows me away. I feel inadequate next to the work she is doing, but need to remember how we all can make a difference even in our own neighborhood. Thank you for this review. This new book sounds phenomenal.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ‘to operate out of gratitude rather than entitlement’

    yes, yes. that sense of entitlement sneaks in almost unawares. gratitude keeps our perspective clear, focused, and sane.

    and maybe permits us to say ‘no more’ to all we thought was coming to us.

    Michele, thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And I believe this may be at the top of the list of challenges for parents in this era. We have so much and it’s almost inevitable that we would start to believe we deserve it all.


  6. Michele, I have read and shared both books. The Welch’s have greatly challenged me to live with open hands. God blesses us so that in turn, we would become a blessing, giving a blessing. Wonderful review!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. So true that we just need to ask God to show us where we are to serve right where we are planted! Entitlement can lead to unmet expectations and strive within instead of peace and generosity. Welsh’s sounds wonderful to help create a heart of joy and peace through serving others. I’ll be tucking this away on my TBR and sharing out to others.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Michele! Both books by this author sound wonderful, and I need to add them to my parenting collection! I like how she offers simple ideas for putting others first–such valuable truths to teach our children!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I used her first book as a resource for a parenting class my husband and I taught last winter. It was so helpful, and, of course, I’m still parenting, so always always always need wisdom for that.


  9. This sounds like a wonderful book. It is so important for parents to teach their children to be aware of the things and people around them. If you really want to empower your children or teach them to change the world…teach them to love one another. That is the only way toward true change.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, and unfortunately, what most of us are modeling to our children is a cleverly disguised self-love that justifies us in putting ourselves first. Lord, have mercy!


  10. Michele, love, love, love this post, especially this quote, “He is plotting the course and managing the troubles with far-reaching purposes for our good and for the glory of Jesus Christ.” Reminds me once again of the sovereignty of God and how He know the end from the beginning, even the places we will live. Many blessings to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Beth. God’s sovereignty and His absolutely good intentions toward me are a pair of truths that I come back to many times every day, it seems. I think it’s true that we write about the things we are trying to get right in real life.


  11. This sounds like such an important book for all of us, regardless of our status in life. Love this: “float before North American Christians the consequential truth that we are where we are for a reason.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I was thinking about this yesterday as I looked around the sanctuary and considered that even the church we attend has a purpose, and we are there to bless that particular group of believers. We get this backwards . . .


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.