Inside: Learn how a fun family game night can spark meaningful conversations about using our gifts to “invest” in loving others and God’s very good plan for our world.
I am always looking for ways to teach kids the Bible as we go about our daily routine. Recently we had a family saga of Star Wars Monopoly going. If you are unfamiliar with the game, the idea is to buy properties for which other players pay you rent. To make more money, you can try to get all the properties in one family (a monopoly) and then build on them. During this unlucky game, I had landed on only a few properties during the “buy” phase. I grabbed what I could, but it wasn’t much. I owned zero monopolies, which meant I couldn’t grow my cash pile. Man, I used to be so good at this when I was eight and played only with my little sister!
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Now if you are familiar with Monopoly, you know a game typically takes 1.5 lifetimes to complete. One night when we had stopped for dinner, I said, “Hey kids, our game of Monopoly reminds me of a Bible story.” Half-playful, half-annoyed, my nine-year-old (G) said, “Mom, everything reminds you of a Bible story.” Cue husband trying to contain laughter and not snort tacos out his nose.
Monopoly and the Parable of the Talents
After a few playful comments back and forth between G and me, I began to explain the Parable of the Talents from Matthew 25. (Side note: The NIV uses the term “bags of gold” rather than “talents.”)
To summarize, Jesus tells a parable of a man who puts three servants in charge of some of his money while he goes on a journey. Two servants “put [their] money to work” and grow what they were given. The master praises them saying, “You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”
But here’s the crux of the story. One man does nothing to grow his portion (in fact, he buries it and then digs it up later to present to his master). The servant cites fear as the reason, but the master dismantles this defense and makes the point that the servant could have at least put the one talent in the bank to earn interest.
In short, the servants who worked to grow what they were given were counted “faithful.”
Teach Kids the Bible on Their Level
How does this relate to Monopoly, and how can this classic game help kids better understand and apply God’s word? Well, here is how I explained it to G and five-year-old C. In Monopoly and in life, we can choose to hold on to what we have. Maybe in Monopoly we don’t spend our money on properties because we are scared we might need the cash later. Maybe in life, we don’t use our time, talents, and treasure to make the world a better place because it’s hard or because we’d rather be doing something else.
In Monopoly, if we don’t use what we have or if we miss an opportunity, we might be the richest for a while, but we won’t stay that way. We need to invest to grow our wealth. And in life, if we don’t use the gifts God has given us, we will miss out on some of the special things God has in store for us and the world.
I think they were kind of amazed that I actually did link Monopoly to the Bible. Or at least they were interested enough that they forgot to be skeptical and sarcastic and started engaging in the conversation. (Thank you, Jesus.) But it wasn’t long before they wolfed down their tacos and were off to play.
Love where you are
Lately, we have had to get creative to help our kids practice acts of love and service. I love the ways I’ve seen you spend yourselves in service to others–checking on neighbors, connecting with grandparents, giving to those in need, and SO much more. Bravo! Your kids are learning that even though life may be different, they can still find creative ways to serve and show love. Let’s keep this habit at the top of our to-do’s as we look ahead to whatever new normal awaits us.
Another way God is speaking to my heart on this is by encouraging me to be more intentional with the people inside my own four walls. It’s possible to be together 24/7 and still not show up and show love.
This can be a pitfall for me. Sometimes I get so focused on sharing God’s love with the world and making peace with my neighbor, I forget that my husband and kids are my closest neighbor. God has chosen me to love them better than anyone else can…or at least try. And yet, many times they get the worst of me. I’m thankful for God’s new-every-morning mercies and the chance to try again.
Model for Your Kids: the biblical truth of investing in love
As I try to model this biblical truth for my kids and invest my gifts to create a more loving home, I am keeping it simple. First, I am trying to remember the basics: eye contact, affection, and active listening. Then to emphasize my intentionality (and provide an outlet for them), I am employing these two low-maintenance activities:
- For the family: We set up a mailbox where family members can draw or write encouraging notes to each other. Every few days, we read them together. (My kids are super into secret codes right now, so I wrote a few of mine in code.)
- For me: Every few days, I place breakfast notes by their morning spots (or on the mirror for my husband). These little messages let them know I think about them, even while they sleep. I write them the night before, and it’s actually good for me, too, especially if I need to reset after a frustrating day. Of course, I’ll keep speaking my love to them, but it is special for them to see it in writing. (This is true even if you have to read it to them.)
Lean on the Lord
You guys, the last thing I want to do is add one more thing to your to-do list. These are difficult times, and we are tired. What is yes for me may be no for you. The best we all can do is lean in and listen to our Lord. We can hear him say he cares. Then we can ask him what “bags of gold” or “talents” he has placed in our hands, and how he wants us to invest them. And (don’t forget this part) we can ask him to renew our strength. Much love to you!
How are you helping your kids learn the importance of investing their time, talents, and treasures? How is God renewing your strength in this season? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section!
Whether you read every word with interest or hurriedly scrolled down (we’ve all been there, busy mom), look what you found! Here are the basics about using Monopoly to start authentic conversations about the Lord in your own family.
|BY: HASBRO GAMING|
Just like we must invest our Monopoly money to move forward in the game, we must invest our time, talent, and treasures in what God is doing around us to fully realize God’s very good plans for us and our world.
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Star Wars products are produced by Hasbro under license from Lucasfilm Ltd. The Hasbro Gaming, Parker Brothers, and Monopoly names and logos, the distinctive design of the gameboard, the four corner squares, the Mr. Monopoly name and character, as well as each of the distinctive elements of the board and playing pieces are trademarks of Hasbro for its property trading game and game equipment.
Mike Begalla says
Loved the illustration, ideas and encouragements.
Thanks! I really appreciate that feedback. 🙂
Diane Begalla says
I love how your lesson is so relatable. Good job.
Oh awesome! So glad to know it helped!
Brilliant! My DH used to kick my butt at this game, as he is a natural risk taker and I am not. I would watch in wonder as he bought every property he landed on, no matter what else he had. I would watch and wait, hoarding my money. I have seen this play out in our real life as well. He is constantly telling me that I am the guy who buries it in the ground. I am praying that God will embolden me to take more risks.
That is an awesome anecdote–thanks for sharing! I will join you in that prayer for boldness and also pray that you will feel his pleasure as you seek to grow in him.
Wow, I love the idea of using board games to illustrate biblical concepts. And your point about loving the “neighbors” in our own homes really speaks to me right now. I actually scheduled “play” into my calendar today because I have not done a good job of being present for my kiddo lately, aside from extra cuddles now that we’re not commuting.
Scheduling play into the day is a great idea! I’m going to borrow that one. It can be really hard for me to be present, too. Thanks so much for sharing.
Rebekah Gruner says
Very well said! I love how you used a classic game to teach a lesson on using gods gifts to create our own “monopoly” in life! So relatable for the kids and a great parenting strategy. Thanks for this! Great job.
Thanks so much, Rebekah! So happy to have you here in this conversation!