“It is better to give than to receive.” We all know this is true and the way that we are supposed to think, but do we really believe it and act on it? I never realized how selfish we humans are until I had kids. Selfishness or self-centeredness is not something that we are taught or learned by watching others. It is so natural and deeply engrained in our very souls from birth. We automatically make decisions based on what is best for ourselves. Because it comes so naturally, we have to actively combat our tendencies with a new way of thinking. We have to put others first. Be a servant to all. Do more than is required. The Bible is chock-full of scriptures teaching us to be selfless instead of self-centered.
At Christmas time we are given many opportunities to serve. We’d like to share a recent story about putting our kids in a situation where they could learn about the value of serving others. A few months ago we cleaned out our basement full of toys. (See post here about this deep clean.) After letting our friends go through the loot and get what they wanted we tried to figure out what to do with the rest. My daughter’s classmate’s mom let us know about the organization reStart that is located here in KC. It is an organization that helps the homeless by teaching them life skills and helping them restart a new and better life. They have a Christmas store where they allow the kids and parents to come and shop for Christmas presents for each other. One night the kids shop for their parents and another night the parents shop for their kids. So we, along with a few other families from our church and school, decided to donate toys and supplies to the store. Then yesterday we had the opportunity to help them actually run the store. Our kids jumped right in and helped – they led some of the littlest kids around and helped them choose gifts, they helped wrap the gifts, and they restocked items on the tables. It was such a blessing to see our kids get into it and serve with great attitudes!
One important point: To get the maximum value out of these experiences, you have to talk to your kids before and after so that they really learn what you want them to learn. Before going in we talked about
- The purpose of the night: to show Jesus to the people who would be there
- Safety rules – stay with us and don’t go away with anyone!
- The people who are here don’t have enough money to buy presents at Christmas
- Ideas for ‘small talk’ questions to ask the other kids, such as their age, favorite classes, etc.
- If the kids told you anything sad that you could say that you would pray for them
- The necessity of good attitudes and obedience!
Then afterwards we asked a few questions:
- So, what did you think?
- What was your favorite part?
- Do you have any questions about anything that you saw or anything that someone said?
Our kids are pretty sheltered and innocent, so they often have some ‘eye-opening’ experiences when we volunteer. We ask these open-ended questions to uncover some of these experiences. Also, don’t forget to pray before and after. More on this in future posts!
But volunteer work doesn’t always have to be so intense. This Saturday my family and a few others are going to the neighborhood apartment complex to help with their “Meet Santa” pancake breakfast. We are going to share the Nativity story and do crafts with the kids. It is simple, but sometimes the littlest things make a big difference.
If you haven’t had a chance yet to serve others, you still have time!!! Maybe you can shovel your elderly neighbor’s sidewalk? Make a goodie bag for your mailman. Have your kids sing a song or make Christmas cards for a local nursing home.
Please share your ideas! What are ways you and your kids serve during the holiday season?