Way # 6 of Our 24 Family Ways
"We serve one another, humbly thinking of the needs of others first."
"And whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all, 'For even the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many."
Giving any person a self-image that they are called to generously serve others prepares them to have close friends, be a better worker, be loved by all sorts of people and have a better marriage. When one thinks of his role in life as a person who serves and shows kindness and help, their story of reflecting God’s love to the world grows powerfully. This is one of the most important mantles we can give to the little ones we are training. I am so blessed now to receive the service of love from my adult children because they had it modeled in our home by Clay and me as a way of life. It was the example they learned in all the big and little moments of regular life—we are called to serve. I saw it taking shape in their lives over time and it was always a gift back to me. Memories like this have become sweet along the way.
The smell of coffee brewing and warm cinnamon bread coming out of the oven was one of the ways I would bribe my children to crawl out of bed on Sunday mornings early enough to get ready for church. Often, I would lay the Bible out by Clay's plate with a favorite verse I had been reading, in case he had not had enough time to pick a chapter out ahead of time.
Especially when my children grew older and activities, jobs, and trips interrupted our previously predictable schedules they had know as little children, I felt it important to gather all of us around the family table to invest in each other. Sunday morning feasts were my way of gathering us to catch up on all that was happening in our lives. Our church didn't start until 11, so we usually had plenty of time to eat a leisurely breakfast together.
From French toast to apple-pecan pancakes, scrambled cheese eggs to cinnamon rolls, breakfasts on this day were always a pleasure we enjoyed.
Some time ago, after a very active, tiring, but fun week with Joy home from college, I planned to arise to make a fun breakfast before we took her to the airport to ly back to school.
Much to my surprise, when I came downstairs I found the table was set and a pot of fresh tea was steeping. She had planeed to bring it up to me in bed, and French toast from my homemade bread was sizzling and browning on our electric skillet.
"I just wanted to serve everyone one last meal before I took off, to tell them I love them. This has been such a fun week at home, I wanted everyone to know how much I loved being here and spending special time together."
There is almost nothing that means more to me than someone else cooking for me and setting the table or washing the dishes! I was deeply grateful. Even more, though, it has been fun for me to see my children serve each other as a part of their own inner integrity--a grid that they have owned that they are people who God has called to serve and meet the needs of others. What a treat to be served by my own sweet Joy!
Serving others helps children to learn how to think of someone other than themselves. Often, serving others softens their hearts, and when they are the one served it comforts them in times of need, and obviously makes their loads in life easier. Serving is a skill and character quality that is easy to spot because it is so rare in adults today.
Many moms say, "If someone would just take care of my children once in a while, I would be soooo grateful just to have a break."
How relieved many of us would have been if someone had just taken our children and engaged them in play for even one evening! What a service that would be to a weary mama.
If a child grows up serving, it will come as a more natural part of giving their whole lives day by day.
Making " I love you" cards or plates of cookies for neighbors, cleaning a sibling’s room, making a special sick tray when a child was in bed, serving meals at the homeless shelter, and so many more things helped our children to learn to give of their time and effort to ease someone else's life.
Occasionally grumbling, or dragging their feet accompanied the training exercise of serving others. None of us is naturally unselfish. But serving often created a positive sense of self-worth in our children, as adults would thank them or people would be pleased with their efforts.
Jesus called his disciples to serve along beside him and in this practice, they began to perceive themselves as leaders.
This week, engage your family and even young children in thinking how they might help or serve someone in need. You will probably be surprised at how much they will enjoy being a part of something that makes them feel rather important. The earlier you start, the better, as it will become a part of the fabric of their lives!