How Did Your Family Do It?
Can you think back to your own childhood and adolescence? Were there some positive experiences that you had that were instrumental in shaping who you are as an adult? Did these things impact the professions you chose or the way you raise your kids?
As early as I can remember, serving people was important to my family. My parents led a puppet ministry through our church for about 16 of my formative years. We had the opportunity through this to meet with people in several environments and from many different walks of life. I learned about the beauty of diversity and the joy of bringing a smile to another human’s face.
Then, every Christmas we used to go sing Christmas Carols as a family to several shut-ins that we knew. I learned to appreciate the stories that they shared when they would invite us in to visit. When I was in high school, one of my best friends and I put together a ministry to go visit with and do odd jobs for some of the elderly people in our community. I learned to have deep compassion for others.
Over the years, I have had chances to go on service-oriented mission trips locally and abroad. I have learned to love others, regardless of their background. I don’t say these things to brag, but I have great appreciation for what these experiences have taught me.
How Do You Do It?
As parents, it can be so easy for us to get into the busyness of life and go into survival mode, only focusing on our own needs. I know because we have been there. From running kids all over creation for activities, to working, to church, we get into the mindless routines of doing all of the things. During these times, I think we have to be careful not to take the lessons we are teaching for granted. Regardless of what we are doing, we are constantly teaching our kids something.
My wife and I want to teach our kids to have empathy and compassion for others. One way that we can teach this is by looking for opportunities to serve others. Today, we had the incredible opportunity to serve with a team of people in raking leaves for a new mom whose husband is currently deployed with the military. This gave me the opportunity to talk with my older kids about the importance of supporting others and getting outside of ourselves.
Have you ever been on the receiving end of this? I have and it helps me to have faith in humanity. I remember a time several months ago when we were taking our family of 5 through the drive-through at a local fast- food restaurant. The people in front of us didn’t know us, but they paid for our meal. I remember feeling shocked and my heart was warmed.
I encourage you to look for meaningful opportunities to serve someone else. In this COVID time, we all could use a little support. Involve your kids. It will change them for good.
Ways to serve people in the COVID era:
- Go do yard work for someone for free.
- Bring take-out food to someone in need. Let them know you’re coming and leave it on their doorstep.
- Write an encouraging note to someone just to let the know you are thinking about them.
- Call someone just to say hello.
- Commit to praying for and checking up on someone specifically.
- Volunteer with local ministries and non-profits.
When we serve others, we get to experience joy and purpose. They receive the warmth and support of knowing someone cares. When our kids get to be a part of this, empathy develops in their hearts for the people around them.
The fruit of love is service, which is compassion in action.--Mother Teresa
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