Don’t underestimate your children by assuming they can’t serve others. They can and they should. Expect it. Model it. Don’t overestimate your children by assuming they’ll want to serve. They probably won’t unless their parents teach them how or their father convinces them it’s cool. Then you’ll have a hard time getting them to sit still.
We have eight children 14 years old and under.
Over the years, a number of people have remarked to me and my wife that our children are unusually interested in helping others.
If a lady is carrying a heavy bag, they often run to carry it for her. If a man is changing a tire, they walk over (unsolicited) to hand him the tools. If congregants need song sheets, they rush to assist. When the meal is over, they’re pretty good about clearing the table quickly and washing the dishes so the adults can talk.
“Show us the secret,” they say. The secret is really no secret at all. You can find the answers in the Bible. We believe in the sufficiency of Scripture. The Bible is all we need. This doesn’t mean that Scripture will teach us how to remove stitches or win at horse shoes or pass the chemistry exam. It’s not sufficient in that way. The Bible is sufficient for faith and practice. This means that the Bible teaches us, either directly or indirectly, everything we need to know about salvation and sanctification.
In other words, if you want to know how to draw blood, you go to nursing school. But if you want to know how to live a good life, you go to the Bible. This includes teaching your kids how to serve others.
Here are five tips:
1. Show Them Serving is Christian
Serving others is to Christianity what ivy is to the outfield wall at Wrigley Field. When you look at Christians, you’re really looking at servants. The word “servant” is found well over 250 times in the New Testament. Paul had a hard time introducing himself without calling himself a doulos. “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus…” (Rm. 1:1).
This is totally foreign to our narcissistic world. Some years ago, Tim Tebow said that the girl of his dreams would have a “servant’s heart”. Though this is standard Christian parlance, much of the media lost their minds. The wife, servile? Yes, and not just the wife but the husband and all the kids too, all in an effort to serve just like Jesus. The Master said: “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many (Mt. 20:28).
“Service” should be a major theme in your family. It should be to your home what ugly Christmas sweaters are to your uncle’s year end party. Everyone that enters your house should expect the kids will be on their toes to serve. This is only weird to goats. To sheep, it’s normal. Their Shepherd said so. “The greatest among you shall be your servant” (Mt. 23:11).