I opened a trust account for my children a number of years back. There was no trip to the bank; no monies exchanged hands because the account was not financial. This trust account was truly personal. Simply stated, the account is this: If, by God’s grace, my child will endeavor to grow and change by showing cheerful obedience to God and his parents, we, his mom and dad, will endeavor to faithfully recognize his good choices and rejoice in his growth.
This simple word picture of attitude and behavior being likened to a bank account has been a special teaching tool which our family has greatly enjoyed. Perhaps it can also be a blessing to you, my co-laborers in Christ!
What is a trust account?
1. It is an informal vehicle to keep parents and children communicating about the everyday spiritual choices and how they affect daily life and testimony.
2. The parent sets up the trust account by explaining the basic idea of a savings/checking account. In a trust account, as in regular accounts, there are deposits and withdrawals. When the child is given a responsibility and he fulfills it with a gracious attitude without being reminded, Dad and Mom will do their best to take note of it. This is a deposit into his trust account. The interest he received for obedience to commands and responsibilities over the long haul is called trust!
Since the deposit is not written, but informal, Dad and Mom are free to recognize anything they appreciate in their child as worthy of deposit to the account. They can place a deposit in the trust account for a good attitude following an on-the-spot order, a kindness to an elderly saint, a thoughtful deed towards Mom, and even the “turning of the other cheek” when a brother or sister proves to be an irritant. It is an opportunity for a busy dad to say, “Son, by the way, I appreciated how you handled ___________ yesterday. You made a good deposit into the trust account! Thanks!
A withdrawal from the account is fairly simple to grasp. If a son or daughter handles responsibilities or commands in a manner that would not please God and definitely not arouse in Dad and Mom and confidence and trust, then likely there will be a silent withdrawal from the trust account of the child. He has written an ill-timed check and a withdrawal will be made.
What are the potential advantages of the trust account?
1. It is a positive tool!
Dad and Mom have a simple tool in their hand with which to recognize a children for a great effort! A wink, a smile, a word of appreciation is in order for responding well to a command or an excellent handling of an ongoing responsibility. Sometimes it would be kind just to say, “Honey, I noticed you were careful to keep a sweet attitude even when you were disappointed; that’s exactly what I was hoping you would do!” (Proverbs 23:26).
2. It is instructive.
When a child is not doing well in an area, he may not be looking at his failing as an opportunity in the making. An observant parent might say, “Son, right now you are not doing well in the area of _____. You’ve got a great opportunity to please the Lord and even earn more trust, but you’re just not doing it. May I give you a little advice?” (Proverbs 4:1-4; 15:31-32).
3. It is a challenge to the child.
It causes him to think about the fact that each choice he makes can be a deposit or a withdrawal, and each transaction is up to him. Dad and Mom are being faithful to notice and encourage efforts, but the choice to deny himself and sacrifice to love God and others is up to him (Matthew 22:35-40).
4. It is continual.
It provides the opportunity for every-day choices to be discussed in a regular basis (Proverbs 6:23; 10:17).
5. It invites input from godly friends.
Others can make a deposit to his account. When word invariably gets around that a child has a trust account in his name, other individuals will freely share how the child has been a blessing to him or perhaps has disappointed him. Often the deposits come from an observant, helpful adult who is noticing the maturing process (Proverbs 23:24-25; 27:5,6,9).
6. It makes times of correction even more significant.
If the child has heard consistent feedback on his trust account balance he has with Mom or Dad, it is not a surprise when parents might allow a special privilege for a healthy trust account. On the other hand, a special privilege might be withheld because the child has insufficient funds in his trust account (Proverbs 3:11-12).
7. It makes loss of trust a sad occasion.
Once my son asked to speak to me alone. He solemnly said, “Dad, I have a withdrawal to make from my trust account.” With that statement he detailed how he had not made a good decision in an area of life. It grieved him that he was losing something he was beginning to prize greatly - the trust that he had earned through consistent, wise living. It was surprising how much it meant to him. Though he had been irresponsible on this occasion, I was able to encourage him because his attitude was one of grief over his sin and because his track record of trustworthiness gave him a big trust account balance with me (Proverbs 23:15-16).
What a trust account is not:
1. It is not a tool for manipulation.
The effort is not to wheedle a child into “doing Mom and Dad proud.” We want to challenge his heart to unselfish, sacrificial living. The continual communication with him brought about by the trust account will allow him to see how desperately he needs the grace of God for daily living and how desperately we want him to show his love to God by his daily choices.
2. It is not intended to be a formal system of reward and punishment.
Other forms of correction must proceed as normal. The parents would not punish the child for losing their trust. However, a child could lose trust he has earned by his stubbornness or disobedience.
3. It is not a means to build self-image.
The trust account is to remind our child that he must trust God more and himself less. The more he finds that he is not faithful as he should be, the more he can see that Christ is the Faithful One. We desire to build Christ-confidence, not an expanded self-image. We desire to build Christ-confidence, not an expanded self-image. The concept is not a biblical one.
Let them see the interest mount!
As a dad who labors full time in God’s vineyard, I see the great need of being involved in observing my children’s daily choices and giving them consistent feedback as to how they are progressing. I have often done a stellar job telling them how they have come short of expectations. Now, by letting them know the interest gained in their trust accounts, I have a means of telling them how they are succeeding in some areas and what they must do to turn areas of withdrawal into a nice, fat deposit!
This trust account is simple (no paperwork), convenient (bank where you live), and accessible (open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week)! It is just the instrument for a busy minister who loves to see enthusiastic, spiritual growth in his children! One can almost hear the joyfulness in the Apostle Paul’s voice as he addresses the Christians in Thessalonica. He exults, “And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you” (II Thessalonians 3:4). We desire confidence in our Lord touching our children...a healthy trust account.
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