Published on March 1st, 2013 | by Laura Lee1
How can I teach my kids to serve others?
What is serving and why is it important?
To serve is to provide care and help to others. As followers of Christ we are called to love and serve God and others (1 Peter 4:10, John 13:12-14, Ephesians 2:10, Mark 10:45). Not only is serving an act of obedience to God, but it also helps us put others before ourselves, gives us an opportunity to use our gifts and talents; and grows our relationship with Christ.
Where do I start?
- Lead by example. Your kids are watching you! If they see you serving in your church or another organization they will know that it’s important to you, and things that are important to you should be important to them. Don’t just wait for someone to ask you, take initiative and ask where you can serve (you want your kids to do that at home and to others, right? Well, model it for them!)
- Family time. Find a way your entire family can serve together. Whether it’s volunteering in a retirement home together, a soup kitchen, at church, with the local community or simply finding creative ways to serve each other as a family, it’s important to do things together!
How do I teach my child to serve others?
- Let them watch. Bring your child with you when you serve somewhere. It will be life changing for them to see you in a capacity where you’re serving people outside of the family (who your kids think you’re “expected” to serve).
- Let them participate. Your child has God-given gifts and talents that they need to use to glorify and honor Him. Encourage them to use those gifts in a capacity that is serving others. Are they gifted at reading? Go to a children’s hospital and let them read to sick kids. Are they gifted at singing? Encourage them to be a part of the worship team at church. Do they know of a friend in need at school? Help them think of creative ways to love and help them.
- Accountability. It’s important to talk with your child about recognizing how God is using them to love and serve others. Regularly ask your child how they’re serving others and tell them how you’re serving others.
What are some challenges I will face and how do I overcome them?
- I don’t have time! Don’t let “no time” be an excuse for not being intentional about serving others. If you don’t show your child the importance of serving the Lord, neither will they.
- I don’t feel capable! God has equipped you, as a parent, to lead your child spiritually. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) There’s no special formula or right or wrong way to love and serve others. A great place to start is doing serving together with you leading the time. After they’re comfortable with that, then serve somewhere together with them leading the time. When that becomes natural to them, have them begin serving by themselves.
- This is too hard! You’re right! So you shouldn’t try to do this on your own. It’s important to lean on other parents as resources. Get in a small group! Share ideas about serving as a family. Keep each other accountable about serving God, your family and others!
Serve where you are gifted and humble yourself to be used by God.