God has ordained the family to be the basic training ground for our children to learn to become people God can use. It is our job to guide our children in character and to then create service projects to help them apply what they have been learning to their daily lives.
As a young mom, I guess I was kind of forced into this way of thinking. I had my first child at age 20 (he was actually born on my 20th birthday). Our other children then came about 18 months apart and then up to two years apart. Consequently, I was a young mom with many little guys and an acute sense of responsibility to train my little ones to serve the God I had recently given my life to at the age of 16.
Having so much responsibility and no family nearby, I needed to train the kids from an early age to chip in and learn to do their part. I remember having my oldest two, Rick and Tim, up at the sink learning to dry dishes when they were 3 and 5 years old. It would have been easier and quicker I suppose to just do it myself and send them off to play, but I felt it was important for them to learn to be responsible. Looking back, I am very glad that I took the extra time to teach them how to do a job responsibly. They were part of our family and I would let them know they were needed and appreciated for their efforts. We used to tell them work can be fun and some days they believed it. More importantly though, they began to learn that God had a job for them to do and they were on this earth to serve God although at this stage of their life, their serving God came mainly through serving their family members. Our children need to learn to do all the functions we ourselves perform in a family context to someday be a successful parent themselves. Therefore, instead of just letting our kids play ALL the time, we taught them to help out with the needs of the large family, making sure we had playtime scheduled in for them as well. Our adult children are now VERY thankful that they learned to have a work ethic rather than just growing up being pleasure seekers. It has shaped the way they now live their adult lives.
As they grew though, we began to branch out and provide opportunities for the boys to begin to serve others beyond our family circle. When we would open our home to guests, as we often did, we began to teach the children to defer to the guests. We would have the children begin to serve the guests at the meal and clear the dishes, etc. If the guests had children, we would “assign” each one of our children to one of the guest’s children for the purpose of making sure that child’s needs were met, that he or she were not excluded, or belittled, etc. They would be responsible for trying to make that child feel special. They were to defer to the other child’s preferences in which game to play or what color plate they wanted. That way, instead of just thinking, “Oh, good, we’re going to have fun tonight, they would be focused on making sure the other child had fun instead.”
Philippians 2: 5-6 “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, …”
Here are some other verses to consider and teach your children on this subject:
John 15: 12-14, Galatians 5:13, Luke 22:24-27, Colossians 3
More next week!