A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine was telling me the witty answer that her 6 year old daughter gave when she was asked to clean her room. Her reply was “Technically you and dad own the house that my room is in, so its really your room so you should clean it.”
First, I’m impressed with the reply (it was said in a respectful and kidding way). Second, there is some truth to that statement. The premise behind her argument is completely true; her mom and dad do own the house. But her conclusion is wrong. Why? Her parents have given that room to her as a steward of what is theirs. She is responsible for that room. She is responsible to clean it, take care of it, and manage it in a pleasing and satisfactory way.
But teaching your children to clean their room may be the most difficult and seemingly impossible task. But doing so is a biblical necessity. Why? Because it teaches your children biblical stewardship.
Stewardship is the careful management of someone else’s property to the owner’s satisfaction. It is a pervasive teaching throughout Scripture. God owns everything—The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him (Psalm 24:1). Herschel Hobbs says this about stewardship, “[It] is designed to develop His people, whose very gifts are a recognition that all belongs to Him and comes from Him.” Therefore all we think we have is really His and we are just stewards of His possession. He owns everything, entrusts us with what we have to manage for His kingdom impact and glory, and holds us accountable to be found faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:2 says, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful.
It is important to teach children the truth behind the little girl’s argument (mom and dad own the house), but also show them that they are stewards of the rooms that have been given to them; therefore they are responsible to clean and manage the room faithfully. By teaching children to steward their room, you are training your children to be faithful stewards of all that God entrusts to them as adults. They need to know that they are held accountable to that stewardship. Once they are adults, they will understand that God owns everything that has been entrusted to them and he lovingly holds them accountable to faithful management of His possession.
Next time your child gives you a witty answer about why they shouldn’t have to clean their room, use it as an opportunity to disciple them into biblical stewardship. Sit down with them, teach them biblical stewardship, and then lovingly hold them accountable to what has been taught.