I spent yesterday picking up trash and scrubbing in the kitchen. Those are things I do pretty frequently around my own house. But yesterday, I took my mad trash-gathering and sink-scrubbing skills outside the walls of my house. I led a group of 27 6th-grade kids from our church on a service project.
We spent the morning learning about why God wants us to serve, then we spent the afternoon actually serving. We cleaned up a park in a poorer part of our city, then we scrubbed clean part of nearby church that is used for an after-school program. It was cold. We didn't have all the supplies we needed. It was a little disorganized. But it made a difference.
Teaching and actively pursuing service to others with our kids is important. Our kids don't have to be really strong or super talented to serve others. Something as simple as forgoing their own comfort to pick up trash in a park on a cold, windy day teaches them in ways that talking to them can't. It doesn't take any special talents to do what we did yesterday. It only takes time and motivation.
These 11- and 12-year-old kids worked hard yesterday. They learned that service to others isn't always fun. It isn't always easy. It isn't always comfortable. But when I asked them at the end of the day how they felt, nearly all of them said it felt good to serve others.
Giving our kids a chance to serve other people starts them on a road of a lifetime of service. Jesus came to serve us. His death on the cross was the biggest act of service anyone's ever done for you or me. If we want to follow Him and become more like Him, then we have to put an emphasis on serving others. Matthew 20:27-28 offers up Jesus' instructions about serving others: "Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Serving others doesn't require a trip to Africa. It doesn't mean we have to build a school. Serving others can be as simple as picking up trash for a few hours, helping a neighbor shovel their walk , or even letting a sibling have their way. Serving others is a choice we make and one we want to teach our kids to make.
Start today teaching your kids that simple acts of service make them more like Jesus. What can your kids do today that will serve someone else?