Our church's Vacation Bible School is this week. I've been teaching fifth grade VBS at our church for more years than I care to count, but this is the first year that my older daughter is old enough to help out at VBS. On Monday, after serving with the third-graders, she came home and said, "I'm tired. That's hard work."
I had to laugh. For years, my girls have questioned why I'm so tired after a morning of VBS. There's nothing like experience to help them understand.
My daughter spending the week helping out in the third-grade VBS classroom isn't a big deal. It's not a huge service project. It's not a big sacrifice of time or energy for her. But it is teaching her the importance of serving someone else. It's teaching her the importance of giving her time and energy to other people. It's teaching her that even little acts of service honor God.
Too often, we think that in order to teach our kids about serving others, we have to plan a big event. We need to go on a mission trip or build a house or clean up a neighborhood. But sometimes, teaching our kids to serve others simply means teaching them to recognize a need, then to step in to meet it. It's clearing the table when you go to grandma's house for dinner. It's holding the door for a mom struggling with a stroller and her groceries. It's shoveling the walk when it snows for an elderly neighbor.
Teaching our kids to serve others simply requires that we teach them that God calls us to serve and that we remind them that God tells us that when we serve others, we serve Him. Matthew 25:37-40 says:“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’"
When we teach our kids to serve other people, we teach them to serve God. We teach them there's value in looking around and recognizing when others need help. We teach them that while service projects and mission trips are good, they can serve others every day -- no matter where they are.
Take some time this week with your kids to brainstorm ways that you can serve others as you go about your everyday lives. When you see an opportunity to serve someone else, point it out to your kids. Remind them that serving others is just like serving God.
Because it doesn't take building a house or heading to the Amazon to serve God. It just takes a willing spirit and an awareness of the needs of those around us.
If you're looking for a more structured way to teach your kids about kindness and serving others, join us for The Button Project this summer. For more information, check it out here.