Training your family to serve.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Serving others is something that is very important to our family.  It is something that we work to instill in our children from the very beginning. We have had our children out to nursing homes, soup kitchens, food pantries, clean up days and everything else since the time they were born.

Serving as a family is important

Serving, like everything else in life, is something you have to practice to get better at.  We’re not born knowing how to help others or put other’s needs before our own.  It’s something we have to start doing and then be intentional about continuing to do.  Sometimes your serving fails and it’s a really bad experience but so is your first basketball game.  The key is to not give up, keep going and keep serving.

We take our kids to an assisted living home once a month and hold a devotional and worship service for the residents.  It’s a great way to reach out to people that are a little more isolated from life.  They are very receptive to having the kids there.  They laugh with them and love to touch them and talk to them.  It’s such a sweet connection.  I go with the little ones to talk to people and help them see how it’s done and then I encourage them to talk or pray each month so they get used to the process.

It is important that you serve as a family.  Your kids need to see Mom and Dad demonstrating how to serve.  This places a value on the activity.  Treat serving like you do school, something that is important and that has to be done.  If you would force your kids to go to school even if they didn’t want to, then force your kids to serve.  They won’t hate it because they had to do it.  They will learn to enjoy the experience and enjoy the time with the family.

Serving brings families closer

Families need opportunities to do things together that will bring them closer and give them something to share and remember.  Serving is a great way to create those memories.  Serving as a family also opens each person up to be more vulnerable with each other.  After a service opportunity, talk as a family about what you experienced.  What did you do?  What was said?  Did anything unique or interesting happen?  Were you able to help someone?  How did this make you feel?  What would you do differently next time?

Use these questions to create dialogue on your way home.  Turn off the radio, phones, DVD players, tablets and spend time talking and listening to one another.  Your kids want to be heard, provide opportunities to listen.  Look for moments over the next few days to continue the discussion or to add to it.  Praise your kids for what they’ve done and encourage them to keep doing great work.

When kids reject serving

It’s going to happen.  Your child will at some point reject the project you have selected for your family.  Talk with them and find out why they don’t want to participate.  Reaffirm that this is what you do as a family and that they are expected to serve with you.  Keep them close to you and help with the activity so that you can lead by example.  They may just be needing some close one on one time with you and this may provide exactly what they need.

Do not berate or shame your children, but they should be made aware of your expectations for their behavior.  Everyone has an off day every once in awhile.  Be understanding of this and show your child some grace.  They need to be encouraged to have a better attitude and to work with the family.  Punishment probably isn’t necessary but discontinuing is not a good idea either.  Keep going and keep trying.  The important thing is to talk, they will soon see that you will not relent.

Teach kids why you serve

We serve because of Christ.  Through Bible study and prayer, teach your kids what God has to say about serving.  Develop their heart by talking about what they are doing and how it is making a difference in the world.  Show them the impact they are having on other people.  Share that the work you do as a family can change the lives of others.

Joshua 22:5 But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.

1  Samuel 12:24 But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.

Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Romans 12:9-13 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

Hebrews 6:10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

1 Peter 4:10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

Train your family to serve

God must be at the center of your family.  Look to him and he will guide you as you serve as a family.  Make it a priority in your busy lives.  Choose to serve even when you don’t feel like going.  Show your kids by example how to serve.  Serve alongside them, taking time to talk with them as you serve. Encourage them to serve and find ways to impact God’s kingdom.  Serving as a family takes work and training but before long, your kids will be the ones asking you when the next family serving day is.

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