Serve the Lord with gladness!
Wouldn’t you love it if your son or daughter woke up one morning and said,
“Mom, Dad, I just love to serve!”
Doing a service project, volunteering at the library, packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child are all great ways to serve. The best kind of serving though comes from a servant’s heart, a humble heart willing to help others and serve God. So what matters most isn’t so much what we do but what’s inside our hearts when we do it.
Service is something you do. Having a servant heart is who you are.
That’s the attitude we want to encourage in our kids.
So here are some 1-2-3 steps for practical service AND intentional ways to use them to create a heart-to-serve in your kids. (This week’s Faith Connections are highlighted throughout the post.)
1 – Go to the Top
It’s great to have ideas on who to serve but why not ask the One who knows all things? Ask God if someone is on HIS heart. So have your kids pray, “God, who could really use serving hands and a serving heart today?” Ask him to bring someone to mind, then wait and listen.
2 – Find Your WHO
If God doesn’t bring someone specific to mind, he may just want your child to choose. So here’s a list to get your child thinking.
- someone in the church family,
- a widow,
- someone who is sick or having a hard time,
- a neighbor,
- a friend,
- a relative,
- someone at the health club, pool, nursing home, grocery store (one of the cashiers at my local store seemed so sad I circled around after checkout and bought her a thinking-of-you card. Doing something like that can make someone’s day!)
And don’t forget Mom, Dad, brothers or sisters. If you want to be great, Jesus said, be the servant of ALL (Mark 9:35). Yep. Even the little sister or big brother who may just tease them a few too many times once in a while.
3 – Decide on the WHAT:
Before plunging in to what YOU’D like to do, ask, “If I were _____, what would I like?” Taking this approach encourages empathy, stepping out of their world and into what someone else is experiencing. Make it about serving others not about doing what they want to do.
The neighbor family whose daughter is going through chemo may have had tons of meal offers. They don’t need or want any more spaghetti or taco dinners. But they could really use a Target or Walmart giftcard. So have a penny drive or call 6-8 families and ask if they’d like to donate money in exchange for a dozen of the cookies you plan to bake.
Or you could say something like, “Dad has had a long day today. How can we serve him? What would he appreciate?”
- Give them a smile and say, “Have a nice day.”
- Make a meal
- Bring them flowers
- Design a “Have a Great Summer” card
- Write a poem
- Walk someone’s dog
- Weed their garden
Or volunteer at a formal organization like Feed My Starving Children. We love this organization that’s perfected volunteer work that benefits hungry children around the world.
4 – Encourage and explain the HOW
Before they start making a card or walking the neighbor’s dog, explain the importance of follow-through.
Have a serving heart means serving when it’s fun and when it’s not.
Even when they get tired and don’t feel like it anymore.
Having a serving heart means following through–
because it’s not about us but about the one we’re serving.
What are some of the best ways you’ve found to encourage your kids to have a serving heart?