Learning to Serve as a Family
by Tara Lowry
I’d be hard-pressed to pick one virtue that stands out as MVP, but service is high up on the list. Nothing sets Christianity apart from other religions more than Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. People will know HIM by OUR love. Loving and serving others matters. Like, really, really matters.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve. (Mark 10:45)
Jesus was a servant leader. Service looks out for the best interests of others…it means you loan out the best parts of you for another person’s gain.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms (1 Peter 4:10)
We’ve tried to be so intentional about modeling for our kids what it is to serve others. During our fifteen years in ministry, our kids have served locally and internationally alongside us, and we have seen God use each and every opportunity to develop them spiritually.
When they were really little, we would pick up trash at the local park or take someone’s grocery cart back for them or hold doors open for people or give up our seats for someone who needed them more.
As they got a little older, we would take them with us when we took our students to serve in food shelters or give blankets to the homeless or deliver backpacks full of school supplies to kids in need.
Around the age of nine, each of our boys took their first international trip…one to the Bahamas to help remodel a church and the other to India to visit a dear friend who moved there to start a children’s home way back in 1998.
I think when you model anything long enough, your kids stand a good chance of “getting” it, but it doesn’t always mean the road is unmarked by struggle.
I won’t “out” the child of ours that has struggled with serving others over the past couple of years, but a struggle it has definitely been! Our church provides a great opportunity for students to serve the younger kids, and this particular child just hasn’t been interested. We made the mistake of trying to push him to serve when the struggle first started, and it got us no where. We could have required him to serve, but we might have lost his heart.
I won’t lie. Andy and I were both disappointed, and we got all tangled up in the comparison trap.
Every other staff kid at our church serves, and they seem to love it.
THAT didn’t get us anywhere either, and it didn’t take us long to fall on our knees, surrender our agenda and expectations and just let the Lord work in our son’s heart.
It is kind of the Lord to demolish our confidence in our own strengths and abilities.
Sometimes he just has to do that for us, so we’ll stop making it about us!
This past summer, while we were at a family camp in Texas, our kids got to see college kids serving all the families. Most of these college students choose to spend every summer of their college years coming to this camp…and they work HARD. All of our kids were impressed and inspired by the loving service they gave, but this one child of mine had a changed heart.
He came home and started serving in our children’s ministry, and he’s serving in a way that uses his gifts. I LOVE that we didn’t push for our way. I love that God is faithful and is working in their hearts to shape and mold them into His image, even when His timing and plan is different than mine.
I love seeing our son loan the best parts of himself out to others. He’s making a difference through serving others!
I wish I had realized sooner that my best parenting happens in prayer. God loves them so…He has plans for them. He knows them and loves them and calls them His own.
Do you struggle to fight for your own agenda in the lives of your kids?
What is parenting teaching you in this season?