‘Tis the season for turkey, football, family pictures, and service with your family. Wait–what was that? Because opportunities are more abundant this time of year, many families seize this as the only season to teach their children the value of serving. But the reality is, while bringing a meal to a family on Thanksgiving and selecting a name from the Angel Tree are incredible, generous acts that should be embraced, they are only a couple of the endless opportunities available–throughout the entire year.
You may be the parent who is just happy to get your pants on straight in the morning or get a shower every other day. I get it–parenting is busy and oftentimes we think of service as something we will do “down the road” or “when we have more time.” But down the road may never come, and time is fleeting. Here is the real deal: Jesus has called us to a lifetime of service–not simply a season. Even though we get pulled in many directions, we need to show our children that serving is not something to check off the seasonal to-do list. It is a blessing and a privilege for the believer at all times.
In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’ (Acts 20:35).
What can we do right now to serve? For starters, think of those things that are special to you and begin there.
THE LEAST OF THESE
From the time I was a toddler, my parents would take my brother and me to visit the otherwise forgotten in nursing homes. The joy of their hearts would light up their faces as they told us our visits were the highlight of their week. More often than not, we were the only visitors they received. Can you imagine? Naturally, it now means a great deal to me to take my own children to visit those in nursing homes. It teaches them that every person is valuable to God and no one is a stranger once you take the time to know them. Another opportunity is donating to foster care agencies. It is a simple act for your children to collect clothing and toys they are no longer interested in and give them to foster families. What a great way to show sacrificial love to other children who often feel alone and forgotten. Show your children how easy it is to give to others, from the orphan to the widow.
One simple and inexpensive act of kindness is taking a hot meal or warm cookies to your heroes–or your neighbors. No one will complain and everyone will be grateful. Do you think the local fire department would enjoy your children thanking them with a little Nestle Tollhouse in tow? Not only are you blessing those who bless you, but your children get to thank their heroes with a tangible item. And while you are busy baking (or buying) those treats, leave little boxes for your neighbors with a simple note that says “thinking of you”–without your name. Service should not expect a thanks in return, but be a simple gesture from the heart. After all, the best gifts are often the unexpected ones.
Siblings love hard and sometimes they fight hard. Selfishness is a natural bent we must teach our children to work through. We can teach them to be selfless by serving their own family first. For example, siblings can choose an item from their brother’s or sister’s chore list and do it on his or her behalf–nothing expected in return. This simple act of kindness will encourage young hearts and minds to think of others–beginning with those in their own home.
Serving does not always mean hopping on a plane for an overseas mission trip or even putting on the apron at a soup kitchen (though I would encourage you to try these at some point). Your mission field is right where you are planted, and you can start now. Too often we think on a very grand scale, but opening the door for a mother who has two children and a stroller in tow is an act of service that will change the course of that woman’s moment–maybe even her day! Offering to bring your very overworked neighbor’s children to your home so he or she can have some down time is a huge act of service. And of course, giving of your time on Sunday morning to teach another couple’s children so they can go to service is ministering to a family who may be on its last leg. You never know what God is doing through you and the people He places on your heart. Look up, look around, and lean on the Lord as you serve, and lay down your time for the good of others and the joy of Christ.
For His Glory,
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