Teach your Children to Serve
It’s not all about Me! This is a key heart understanding that Family needs to understand. Family life is about other-ness. Each member of the family needs to have this truth at the core of their belief system. Unfortunately this is not the message we receive from the media and society in general who tend to support the idea that we look after myself first and then others. God’s way is different. Jesus calls us to be servants, to be last, to consider others.
Family life gives us the opportunity to practice considering one another:
- Household chores teach our children responsibility but they also teach them how to serve the family, to help out and to see needs. Though we have a roster for chores I also encourage our children to help each other – this is a voluntary thing, so it really does reflect the heart of service. When someone asks for help though I expect family members to be willing and available in any way that they can.
- The family meal table offers plenty of scope for teaching service: serving food to the table, passing dishes around before we dig in ourselves, looking out for who wants seconds, sharing the conversation – listening and talking.
- Hospitality in the home gives our kids an opportunity to learn to serve by helping to get the home ready, and then by learning the skills of being a host: serving drinks and nibbles, and looking after any needs. The more our children practice these aspects of service, the quicker they become second nature.
- Helping others in need such as providing food, child care and/or cleaning is an aspect of serving others. I want my kids to see this as normal life – we need to be prepared to go without things ourselves in order to help others.
- Serve at Church – Our church has always had a roster: cleaning, serving morning tea, sound desk, music, reading Scriptures and praying, and giving a kids talk. When our kids were young they would work alongside of us, now as older teens they are on the roster of their own volition.
- Volunteer work in the community –this starts with our kids seeing us involved in the community and having them work alongside of us as much as possible. Our kids have helped prepare for parenting classes and mums’ support groups, community seminars and kids clubs, and community Christmas carols. As they grow older they take on more responsibility and now the older kids are involved in their own community volunteer projects.
I don’t list these things to brag but rather to give you ideas of how family life opens up opportunities to serve and to learn about serving.
We don’t want to serve just for the sake of serving, being busy or being seen to do the noble thing! That will just lead to exhaustion. We serve others because we love them – we love them because Christ loves them.