Would you take fifty cents from a five-year-old?

My youngest son overheard a conversation I was having with a friend who is a collegiate-level hockey coach. My friend is coaching his team to win at life, not just on the ice. As a follower of Jesus he sees his coaching as an opportunity to make disciples who will be leaders and men of character long after their hockey career comes to a screeching halt.

There on our deck we were conversing about sports, discipleship, and the challenges he was facing. The inspiring vision of forming young men was up against the financial realities of running a top-notch program. My five-year-old was listening in up to that point, but then suddenly disappeared into the house. Attention-span limit reached, I deduced. Wrong. A few minutes later he reemerged looking rather serious and with his summer-dirtied hands clutched something tightly. “Here you go!” he blurted. His young hand opened and produced two quarters. “This is so you have money for your team,” he said with innocent conviction. My friend was silent. Should he take this money? His first response was to resist the offer. How can you take a five-year-old’s fifty cents for a college hockey program, and besides, this amount was less than a drop in the bucket anyway?

As Dad in this scene being played out, I was wrestling through these same thoughts, when it struck me: this is exactly what I want to raise him to be! My deck was transformed into holy ground, and it was good I had my shoes off. My son’s heart had been stirred by the Spirit of God toward a selfless generosity that can only come from the heart of his Heavenly Father. He was giving pretty much all he had. I smiled. I was being schooled.

“You have to receive that,” I said leaning toward my friend’s ear. “This is an act of obedience to the Spirit and neither you or I should quench this moment.” So it was, that a grown-up college hockey coach obediently received fifty cents from a five year old. Later he quipped that perhaps those two quarters need to be framed on his wall.

In 1 Timothy 6 Paul encourages his protégé to call those who are rich in this world to be generous in the work of the Kingdom. When we lay up treasures in heaven by opening our often too-clutched hands and share what God has put there, we discover a wonder of wonders: we grasp life that is truly life. Let’s face it, no matter how much we have to give—$10, $1,000, $10,000—at the end of the day it’s really just the equivalent of a five-year-old’s fifty cents to the King of the Universe who owns it all. The issue is not the amount; it’s about our fundamental values, vision, and who (or what) has our heart. Do we respond with generosity when the Holy Spirit stirs, startled that we have an opportunity and even the slightest capacity to bring heaven a little closer to earth through sharing what has been put in our hands?

The speedy selflessness that day on my deck is too often in sharp contrast with how we live as grown-ups with our grown-up priorities. Isn’t the responsive heart I witnessed in my child what we want our sons and daughters to have? Of course we do. It’s beautiful. It’s humbling. And, it’s worth emulating.

Phil Wagler lives in Surrey, BC with his amazing wife Jen and their 6 kids. It probably goes without saying that his five-year-old has become a rabid hockey fan.



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