Many parents wonder how to teach their children to be missionally minded – to be more outward focused instead of focused on themselves. Children learn not only by word (what you teach) but also by example (what you do.) If you live a missionally minded life, your children will observe your choices and learn from you.
Start at Home
The first step in nurturing a servant-hearted worldview is to make the language of service a normal part of your family’s life. In our home we talk a lot about making the loving choice. We memorize verses that help us remember that a fundamental expression of love is to serve. Here are some verses you might want to use in your home:
Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:29-31
And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. – Luke 6:31
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. – Philippians 2:3
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. – Philippians 2:4
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. – Colossians 3:23-24
Service Ideas for Children
Getting out and helping others outside the home is the next step. You may have to be creative to find service opportunities for very young children. Ministering as a family is best when you have little ones, but don’t try to do too much too early, or both you and your child will end up frustrated.
Pray and consider your child’s natural gifts and interests. This may open up new possibilities for service. Lisa has some great suggestions for questions to consider as you look for ways your children can serve.
Here are some service opportunity ideas to get you thinking about what might be available in your area.
Service opportunities for children under 5
– practice at home by helping parents do kind things for siblings
– help bake cookies for a neighbor
– pick out toys for Operation Christmas Child
Service opportunities for children ages 6-12
– contact your local food bank or women’s shelter and find out what supplies they need, then have your children help pick out these items at the store and deliver them
– help your kids set up a fundraiser (bake sale, lemonade stand, yard sale) for a charity they want to support
– pick up trash together in your neighborhood
– make a meal as a family to deliver to someone needing help (new mom) or cheering (invalid)
Service opportunities for children ages 13-18
– volunteer at the local food bank or soup kitchen
– make crafted items like hats, sleeping mats, dresses, puppets or shoes for those in need.
– go on short term mission trips with church or youth groups
– babysit or clean house for a new mom
You may find other ideas here. And now it’s your turn! How do you nurture a servant’s heart in your children?