Written by Alecia Baptiste of AleciaBaptiste.com.
Somehow serving and helping others has always been a part of who I am.
It just seems to be woven into my DNA. I’m the kind of person who sees injustice, a hurt or need and something wells up from deep inside me. I just have to do something!
Even as a kid, I’d watch the commercials about the kids in Ethiopia who were starving. For the price of one cup of coffee a day, we could feed a child.
One day while watching one of those commercials, I decided that I wanted to help at least one needy child.
Well, with many years behind me and four children later, my heart of service has become a part of the DNA of our home, and we’ve found many ways to impact those in need.
In fact, I believe that educating our children is about preparing them to serve. Dr. Ben Carson, a widely known pediatric surgeon, states it this way:
“If we make every attempt to increase our knowledge in order to use it for human good, it will make a difference in us and in our world.”
Serving is simply giving what we have so that someone else might benefit from it.
We can give our time. Our knowledge. Our resources. Our natural abilities. Our wisdom. Our attention.
Anything that we have, we can give. I believe the more we have, the more we are expected to give. We educate our children from the perspective of wanting them to have MUCH to give to the world. We agree with Booker T. Washington’s conclusion:
…those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”
Here are some things we’ve done with our children in order to cultivate a heart of service within each of them:
Service starts at home
I believe the best place to begin cultivating this attitude of service is in our homes. All of our children do chores as a way to care for one another. My husband and I also try to model this attitude of service as we serve each other.
We also want our children to know that their service in genuinely needed. We need them just as much as they need us. We’re a team, and everyone’s contribution is necessary.
We regularly read books and articles about those in need
I want our children to be aware of the plight of the poor, the exploited, and the vulnerable around the world.
This awareness can produce a heart of gratefulness and genuine empathy for others. I want my children to care enough to act in some way, even if the action is small.
We model service to our children
A great way to emphasize the importance of service is for our children to see us as parents serving. Actions speak louder than words!
We make it a point to serve others with our children with us. Those little eyes are always watching. They are learning how to care for others. They are seeing us live out the ideas that we are teaching them.
We serve together as a family
Let me say this upfront, my children aren’t always excited to serve. They complain, moan and groan more often than we would like them to.
Yet after many years of serving together, we are beginning to see fruit. Serving together doesn’t have to be anything complicated, or difficult. There are so many small ways to serve others.
The key is to be intentional about looking for needs that you as a family are able to fill.
It could be something as small as picking up trash in your neighborhood, or keeping water bottles and granola bars in your car in order to give to the homeless.
As we’ve served together, we’ve discovered many surprising benefits. We’ve grown closer together as a family, developed friendships with some amazing people, and made some lasting memories!
Serving is a great way to spend time together.
Service develops an attitude of selflessness, compassion, generosity and gratitude
As we serve, we enter into someone else’s world. Looking into the eyes of the hurting and hopeless, listening to their story and sharing in their pain reminds us that we are all human.
No matter where we come from or what we have, we are all humans of infinite worth. We all have wonderful gifts to give the world.
“Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve…. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
For a list of ways that you can serve together as a family, check out my post on serving.
What benefits have you discovered as you’ve served others?