I’m sure I didn’t do everything right when raising my kids. No one does. There is no perfect parent, but it sure is sweet when you realize you did something right, even if you didn’t realize all the implications it would have when you did it. (Be sure to read Part 1 of this series, too!)
As a really young mom, my kids were born pretty close together, and I didn’t have much time for anything but my kids. But as some of the kids got a little older, God impressed upon me that I needed to teach my kids to serve others. Sometimes that’s best learned through doing.
There was an elderly couple who used to come to our church. They had been missionaries to Germany during the time just before World War II . We invited them to our home for dinner one day and began to get to know them. Soon after that, the man, who had diabetes, had to have his leg amputated and their visits to church become less frequent. We would watch for them to arrive each week, though, and we’d help to wheel Mr. Hutchinson in to church as it was a bit hard for his wife to do that.
Then we began to visit them. I would always take Laura with me. She was about 10 years old. I’d talk with her on the way out to their house (they lived about an hour from us) about how to listen for hints of things they liked or things they needed to have done that we might be able to do. Aunt Lillie, as we called her, would often ask Laura to play her a song on the piano when we visited.
They grew to enjoy our visits so much as it became harder and harder for them to make it to church. Uncle Jim would be sitting looking at his watch, waiting for us to arrive.
I would prepare Laura to ask them questions. They had been missionaries after all, and their lives were rich in experience and service to the Lord. Laura learned from being attentive that Uncle Jim liked little jams and jellies and would often ask the waitress in restaurants if she might take home a little pack of jelly for Uncle Jim.
Lilly liked purple flowers and Cadbury candy bars. Laura would spend her own money to get little treats for them. The younger kids would make them pictures or Bible verses. We’d go as a family at Christmas sometimes to sing with them. Laura and I would take them to lunch at the Peaks of Otter every few months. Laura later told me that she knew I started doing this to teach her how to serve others, but she felt like she benefited so much from listening as they shared of their lives dedicated to service to the Lord.
Laura was ten years old when we first visited Uncle Jim and Aunt Lillie. Uncle Jim went to heaven many years ago at the age of 100. Aunt Lillie is still living and Laura, now 27 years old, still writes to her on a regular basis and several years ago surprised her with an unexpected visit. (She now lives 8 hours from us).
This is just one example. I thankful to say, I could write about each of my kids. They are ALL servants. I am constantly blessed to hear of how they, all adults now, are continually doing things to bless others.
Need ideas of how to do this in your family? That’s why we wrote Character in Action a little over a year ago.
It is chock full of practical ideas that even families with small kids can do. It’s things we’ve done with our kids or grandkids. It will get your creative juices flowing and we’d LOVE to hear of ways you are investing in your kids’ lives to teach them to invest in others.
Mom, why are we doing this? Here’s some verses to teach your kids.
Mark 9:35 – And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, [the same] shall be last of all, and servant of all.
Matthew 23:11 – But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
Proverbs 19:17 – He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.
1 John 3:18 – My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
Matthew 5:16 – Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.