It is so great to get your kids involved early in serving others and developing a heart that loves to do so! We have some excellent suggestions from my friend Wendy today, for encouraging children to serve others.
Our church is big on serving others. There are many opportunities to prepare food, care for children, park cars, clean floors and bathrooms, hand out free coffee, check in children, lead small groups or worship, and so much more. Our church is living and active, and we are so excited to be a part of the growing body of Christ in our area!
I have been a part of the breakfast prep team since last spring, getting up twice per month at 5 a.m. so I can go serve in the morning and still be home in time to help get our younger children ready for church. My husband and I also took part in a marriage ministry last fall called Marriage Works, and this winter session we will be a part again, and as assistant table leaders. My husband helps clean the aquarium each week and our daughter serves on the middle school creative team, helping to lead worship on occasion or with game prep and organization.
I do not tell you all of these things in order to brag about myself. It is a struggle each time that I need to get up early to get to the church and prepare food. I dread that wake up time! However, I do it because I want to serve. I want to set an example of service for my children, and I sacrifice my sleep because for now, in this season of parenting very young children, that is what works best for our family. Each and every time I get to the church I know it is the right thing to do. The smiles, the hugs, the prayer, the laughter, the love of Christ that emanates from these people, His people, envelopes me. I would not trade it for more sleep any day.
The MarriageWorks class has enabled us, through the Word of God that is spoken as well as lived out by the leaders there, to overcome a major hurdle in our marriage. It was mostly my own hurdles of unforgiveness, mistrust, trying to control. God used a very special couple to help open my eyes to what I was doing, and the freedom I have experienced over the last 5 months has been amazing. My burden was lifted as soon as I forgave, trusted God, and let go.
So how does this lead into encouraging our children to serve? I’ve listed 5 ways we do this in our family.
5 Ways to Encourage Your Children to Serve Others
- Give your children responsibility at home. Teach them to serve you and one another by washing the dishes, taking out the trash, feeding the pets, replenishing the toilet paper, or whatever it is that you decide they are capable of doing. Even our 4 year old has chores to do, and for the most part, she enjoys them and feels good about serving. However, even when our children don’t feel so good about it, we make sure they do them anyway. We believe it teaches important skills for their future.
- Serve others yourself. Volunteer in the church nursery or in the Meals Ministry. Find an area where there is a need and fill it. You will bless others, but I believe you will discover that the bigger blessing is in the serving.
- Ask your children’s opinion. When you hear of a need in your church or community, tell your children about it. Ask them how they think your family can help. This will likely get their creative juices flowing, and you may be surprised at just how many ideas you collect!
- Allow them to serve on a missions team. My eldest son got involved with the youth at our church, in the city where we lived before this location, and served on a missions team there several years. Actually, he is currently saving for the next trip which takes place this summer. It is a week-long service time in a city in Florida where the students pick up trash, paint homes, feed the hungry, clothe the needy, hold sports and vacation bible school events, and otherwise pour themselves into a community of people for the sake of their love for Jesus and His people. Serving in this way has changed him like nothing else ever has.
- Invite others to serve alongside you. Recently, it has been very cold in our area, with temperatures going much lower than usual. Our church, in their usual fashion, stepped up and opened the church building to some folks who were displaced due to the cold weather. They asked the church body to help provide clothing, bedding, food, support, transportation, prayer, and more. I was able to provide a bit of food and prayer. I also posted a link online in an effort to spread the word. A friend checked back in with me later to find out how our homeschool group can help meet the needs of the people my church is helping. We are hoping to put together some sort of blessing bag with hygiene items, snacks, possibly gift cards…whatever is needed……to show the love of Christ to those in need. So, tell others, they may want to get involved and serve along with you!
I do hope my list was somewhat helpful to you. Perhaps you have more suggestions. Please leave them in the comments for me.
Wendy is a homeschooling mama to five who loves to encourage others along the homeschooling journey. She also considers herself a ‘foodie’ and is always ready to try a new recipe in the kitchen. You will find Wendy writing about homeschooling, faith, food, and family over on her blog, Striving to Follow Him. Wendy also shares recipes at Southern Test Kitchen and is founder of a brand new blog, Your One Tree. Be sure to visit and connect with Wendy on Facebook and Twitter, too!