Fostering a servant’s heart is a hard battle. For parents, it may feel impossible.
We wanted to hear stories of where it went right, so we asked a few families to share how service and stewardship were used to overcome spiritual entitlement.
- Encourage acts of service when they’re young.
At a young age, my parents began ingraining a servant’s heart in me. I can remember volunteering at a special needs preschool at the age of four. I remember thinking these children were no different than me—we were all four years old, swinging and coloring just the same.
My parents wanted to put me in environments that taught me how to love all kinds of neighbors—neighbors who may not have looked, talked or acted as I did.
As I continued to get older, my parents gave me more opportunities to love the marginalized in our community in Nashville. I played games with children at the local children’s home, served meals to the homeless and tutored underprivileged children at an after-school program.
My mom often quoted Luke 12:48, which says, “Much will be required of everyone who has been given much.” I had been richly blessed both materially and with the love of my parents and the Lord, and I learned that it was my responsibility to spread the overflow of this love.
Now, as a sophomore in college, I think back to the moments of volunteering in the special needs preschool 16 years ago. The desire to help those that the world so often outcasts was something that the Holy Spirit prompted my parents to plant and pray within me at a young age.
I will always be grateful for the ways in which my parents taught and truly showed me how to love my neighbor.
- Teach stewardship by setting the example.
I honestly don’t think I knew how much my parents paid for anything when I was growing up.
They took care of everything, and even though I had a job after I turned 16, I still didn’t buy much myself unless I was getting fries in the drive-thru with my friends. So I have tried to include my own kids more in those types of discussions. I want them to know the price of auto insurance, repairs and the cost of a week-long sports camp.
I’m not trying to make them feel guilty or burdened by that information, so it’s always a careful conversation, but I do think they need to understand that there is a cost, and we want to be good stewards so we have to pick and choose sometimes.
We’ve also made missions a priority. We’ve encouraged our kids to go on mission trips. We want them to be involved in what God is doing around the world, but we also know there is a practical side of it, too.
The streets of Mexico and the slums of Paris have opened their eyes about what is want and what is need. They have raised funds for those trips, too, by doing things like making breakfast burritos to sell at church on Sunday mornings.
Taking ownership in raising money to go serve others has taught them all sorts of great lessons about things like community, materialism, work ethic and giving.
- Serve together on mission trips.
When I was in eighth grade, I went on my first international mission trip to Haiti with my parents and my sister. Individually, we each had a heart for others, but serving together as a family was an incredible experience.
With it being my first time seeing poverty firsthand, it opened my eyes to the needs of others. I saw hungry children, deteriorating shacks and hopeless faces.
I was overwhelmed.
One unforgettable opportunity was to meet the four Haitian girls that we had been sponsoring for almost a year. That experience made me feel as if they were part of our family, not just a picture on our refrigerator.
My sister and I brought some clothes and jewelry that we thought they would like. Since they had so little, they were excited to receive what seemed to us to be a simple gift.
My trip to Haiti completely changed the way I lived my life. As followers of Christ, we are called daily to live out the mission to further the Kingdom of God. I now understand that this includes serving others, whether it is in a foreign country or right in your hometown.
Credit: Caroline Greene, Cynthia Hopkins and Madison Hari
Article courtesy of Parenting Teens magazine.