In a world that tells our kids that they only need to think about themselves – we long to teach our children what it means to give, what it means to be servant-hearted, and what it means to be selfless.
I believe these are lessons we are all, as adults, still striving to learn ourselves. In fact, you should be delighted to know that just the other day, I was as selfless and servant-hearted as can be. I then proceeded to throw a tantrum because no one recognized how kind and wonderful I had been. How dare my children not pat me on the back or give me a loving round of applause for my constant selfless acts of bending-over-backwards kindness toward them?!
Selfless? Sounds more like I was being self-absorbed, self-motivated, and self…self…selfish! I obviously still have so much to learn.
So how do we teach our kids to be humble and servant-hearted? And how do we (the wise and wonderful grown-ups) learn to die to ourselves?
I believe we do this by looking outward. By looking to the needs of others. By stopping the focus on ourselves and instead, focusing on truly loving those around us.
(By the way, Jesus never threw a tantrum because he wasn’t being properly appreciated for his selfless acts. Not one time. I would do well to remember this.)
I find that each time I serve someone in my family or in my church or community out of true, selfless love, I am so enriched by the experience that I can’t help but be drawn closer to God. This is what I want my children to learn and understand: That service to others is a glory to God. That this world is not our home, and we are not called to be content and comfortable, but to selflessly love and to serve. That loving on others brings pure joy that can only be achieved when we follow Jesus’ servant-hearted footsteps.
I believe the best way we can learn to serve selflessly and teach our children to serve selflessly is to work at it side by side. How ridiculous is it for me to put my kids in front of a DVD so that I can have the time to work on a ministry I’m involved in? How silly is it that I would busy my kids in another room on an act of kind service while I head to the computer to get some writing done?
Admittedly, this has to happen sometimes. But what if, the majority of the time, we all work together on ministries as a family? What if we talk together, pray together, plan together, and execute together various ministries that God has given us? In doing so, we learn together, grow together, make beautiful memories together, and slowly but surely, become selfless servants…together.
I have more to share on this topic – and I have a very exciting ministry project announcement that I’ll be writing about next week! In the meantime, let’s reflect together on how we each serve within our families. This looks different for each family, depending on your season in life, how old your kids are, and the circumstances going on around you. But I believe each family can bless others in so many different ways! So share!! What do you and your family do to bless and love on others?
Laura E says
I know what your exciting ministry project announcement is, and I’m excited about it, too! :D
Just this morning I caught myself saying to my 3 yr old “I am not your servant. You have legs and can get your water for yourself.” Yikes… serving together as Christ served. Such a challenge for our proud hearts somedays.
This is such a great question. We have five kids 4-13 and its hard to find places that allow young kids, or find things that suite all age ranges.
I know! The local food bank wouldn’t let us help when my oldest were 4, 3, and 2. You’d think since it was a church food bank (not our church, but a local one)that they’d let each kid put a box of pasta in each bag. It’s the thought that counts.
I have a 7 year old and I have tried so many times to find places where she can volunteer alongside me. Every place has age restrictions and I have been unable to find anywhere. Surely my mature 7 year old can help out somewhere! But where? Can anyone give me suggestions? We have already tried the humane society, soup kitchen, and library to no avail.
I tried the food bank with my kids but got turned away. I think you need to just do your own helping instead of relying on organizations to let you help. Take her out to shovel snow for the elderly in winter or other good deeds like that. You could even ask friends and neighbors to let her help weed their garden or sweep their sidewalk after they mow.
You could start small with elderly in our neighbohood, or relative who ma be older. Sometimes going shopping, or yard work, or daily household activities are hard to do. My grandmother will be 92 and has struggled with tking trash cans to curb for trash day. Also, organizations like Sole to Soul, collect used,in fairly good condition, shoes and have drop-off locstions. That could b done in your church, family, extende family..just ask for shoes. Many homeless shelters look for socks, and toiletry items. So many things, just ask God to show you a need that your family can fulfill.
Our kids are ages 3, 5, and 7. We try to minister to others in our home by hosting people for meals. Recently when we invited a group of people over for supper, the kids wanted to make something to give to each couple as they came in the door. Everyone had a job on the “welcoming committee” – one person took coats, another gave them their small gift, and another led them upstairs. They helped prepare by making the salad for supper. It was their idea to make a centerpiece for our serving table. It was made out of K’nex, but was very thoughtful and made a fun conversation point. When our children get older, I think it’ll be easier to get out and do other types of things, but for now, we’re doing what we can inside our home. The kids LOVE it. In fact, they stood close to the window for nearly 2 hours off and on waiting for our guests to arrive!
Wow, I needed this message today. And have to say that first spoon you showed IS truly art being handmade. Lovely!
Donna Peters says
Laura I would love a set of those beautiful spoons.
Service to others is something I believe in but I need to make it a priority.
The handmade spoons are beautiful!
Good question – I feel like anything I can do “with” my 2 & 4 year olds turns into “mom runs around trying to keep the little ones out of trouble, and doesn’t get any actual serving done”.
The one thing I can think of where they would actually do more good than harm (or need to be shunted off to be entertained) is our church’s nursing-home ministry. One Saturday a month, a group goes to the local nursing home and helps conduct a worship service/gospel presentation. After the music & the preacher, folks split up to go talk to the residents.
I suppose I could let them help me when I (rarely) cook meals for new moms or house-bound folks, too.
Yard work or other clean up work? Not yet, but in another year or two…
You’ve really got me thinking now. Thanks!
Our family has been blessed by a ministry FOR children that we can do WITH our children. It is called New Horizons for Children, and it allows an orphan from China or Eastern Europe to spend 5 weeks with your family, learning how to function in a family and learning about the love of Christ. It is like a missions trip from your home! And it has changed our lives. Our kids are young–7, 5, and 2,–and they still tell people about our hosting experience!
Charlotte Moore says
Someone please tell me what spoons you are talking about. There are NO spoons on what I am reading. Hmmm…..
I wish I had gotten my boys to help do stuff when they were small. I was always fixing food for the sick or to take to the funeral home. Never thought about letting my boys help.
I have 3 kids ages 6, 3, and 1. Right now we spend most of our service time raising money for a missionary friend in Jamaica. They love to help with bake sales, yard sales, car washes, etc. Then we send they money to our friend. He and his wife are always so kind to send a letter and pictures to show them what they are helping to do there. Admittedly there are times when it feels like mom and dad are doing most of the work, but if I can just get them interested for a little while now I am prayerful that that interest will grow as they do.
When my baby goes down for her nap my 3-year-old and I make cards to give to people that are sick or that just might need a smile. Sometimes I just fold a piece of paper, give her crayons, and let her go but sometimes we do more. She loves putting on stickers too. :) We have to walk to the post office to mail anything so she likes to help put them in the mail slot, or she will hand them out to people at church. It’s fun for both of us and people really seem to appreciate them.
We also try to make and send cards to our missionary friends.
Iunis Carroll says
Lauran so excited at how far u all have made so many wonderful an new things.Sending seeds shortly.The handmade spoons are beautiful.