If you are following along with In This House, We Will Giggle, this month is all about SERVICE! But guess what? You don’t have to do it September. Any day, any time, any month – is a great time to teach our kids about serving others. So, file this away for later or try it another month – if you are still in a coma from back-to-school logistics.
This is how we define the virtue of service in our home. I like putting it in a language they can understand.
Teaching my kids these virtues used to overwhelm me and seem quite impossible. And God has turned them into a craving for me. Not a “have to” but a “want to.” I feel excited that we get to expose our kids to the best part of faith during our time with them. But, I know it can be overwhelming and hard, because on some days – I can barely get a shower and feed them. Much less, teach them to be kind and serve someone!
Quick Pep Talk Before You Teach “Service”
1. Grace – If you have a teeny tiny baby or toddlers throwing things at you. Grace. There is time. Feed them. Disciple them through a loving thing called discipline. These things called virtues will come.
2. Baby steps – What a elementary-aged kid can do is very different than a 2-year-old. Don’t get overwhelmed by comparing your child to older kids. Just start somewhere.
3. Think long-term – Even though dinner is urgent, graduation is coming. It’s depressing, but true. I just don’t want the first time they “serve” another to be on a college missions trip. Let’s let them experience true service while they are in our homes. It doesn’t have to be overseas. There are areas every day in our own yards and homes to model service. Keep thinking like a long-term – showing them how Jesus would serve those he loves – from classmates to neighbors.
This month, I am partnering with my friends at Care For Aids – because they are making SERVICE so very practical and doable for families. They are so creative at involving families, kids, small groups and communities in service – all aimed at changing the lives of those in great need.
Three practical ways your kids can learn to SERVE!
1. SERVE by GIVING:
A heart of service can happen through giving! My kids decided to have a garage sale (well I did and made them do it). I showed them one of the Care For Aids videos and we made signs about to put out front saying “ALL PROCEEDS FROM THIS SALE FOR: CARE FOR AIDS.” They let everyone know that came up for lemonade or a book that they were not getting the money – but they were passing it on.” You could see people go from confused to warm smiles. The video really helped them understand why we would to this – that someone needed our help across the world and there was something our family could do right here.
This is so not my house or my garage sale. Could NOT find the photo of my girls.
It shocked me when they started grabbing MORE toys and MORE clothes to sell. I couldn’t believe how God brought people to the sale and then the money literally multiplied. Someone would buy a book for $1 and then hand us a $20 once they heard the story of Care For Aids. It taught my kids a vital lesson about service – you just have to be willing and God shows up.
Our friend Reese held a bake sale with her class. Imagine the stories told when she explained this to her class. Kids have a way of simplying the message. Once our kids have their hearts, hand and feet engaged – they don’t need a lecture on service. They get it. And it’s contagious.
Your kids can also make bracelets or other gifts and hold a fundraiser to make money for any organization. It doesn’t just have to benefit Care For Aids. You might have other organizations that are close to your family’s heart. The point of this month, is to gather your family and gather your community together for a common goal. The memories will be made and even better…the experience of service will be felt.
2. SERVE by PRAYING:
We often explain to our kids the importance of prayer, but honestly we forget to pray consistently and specifically. Prayer is absolutely a way we can serve. There are stories of clients all throughout the Care For Aids centers – and they need our prayers. If your family wants to commit to one client in prayer, let us know – we can create a prayer card for you. Here is an example. Or, put a photo of your Compassion Kids right in the middle of your dinner table. Or even a family in your own church that could use your service of prayer.
Prayer maps are also a fun way to serve. This is a map of some of the centers. Your family can pray for certain centers or regions. Or, put a globe in the middle of your table and spin and pray. Praying isn’t just to the wind – He is listening and He cares. About every bit of it. Modeling this for our children is powerful. If we can’t send money or serve with our time – we can send our prayers.
3. SERVE by GOING:
My friend Kylie writes a powerful excerpt in Chatper 9 of my book about taking her young children to Africa and honestly it has changed my mind about serving with my kids earlier. I had always envisioned taking mine on missions trips as teens.
We feel like the best way to cultivate compassion and generosity in our children’s hearts for the least, the vulnerable and the orphan is to expose them to that world. I don’t want my kids growing up thinking everyone lives at the level we do, that food is always in excess, and that their biggest problems are what to wear or that I made them apologize to their sibling. I don’t want my kids to sit on the sidelines of God’s story. I want their heart to follow their treasure. I want their treasure to be what God treasures. And he treasures the lost, the fatherless, the poor, the broken, the hungry.”
We know every family cannot feasibly GO on a trip to Kenya. Some will, some will support financially and some will pray. I do know that every family that has gone – has wanted to return often and their kids have never been the same.
In addition to Care for Aids trips, consider domestic trips like Lighthouse Retreat or trips offered through your local church. Read more about Kylie’s center and trips here. And what Ashley is doing with her community right here. Y’ALL! They had a PROM!
Keep coming back this month!
We will have more ideas on how to SERVE with your families. The options are endless. The trick is getting your family together and then inviting other families to do it with you. A GROUP is the way to create a memory that etches service into WHO you are – not just WHAT you do.
Once your kids get their hands and feet in the game – their hearts will follow. And they come back for more. All are blessed in the process.
Tell us your stories!
How have you seen your kids get engaged in service?
Have you seen their faith grow through this?
What are easy ways you get your little ones involved in service?