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“Service to others is an essential part of training and instructing our children in order to cultivate in them a loving and obedient heart. Serving others is a way to live out what the Bible would have us believe in our hearts. It puts feet to the message of the gospel.”
Truly, service to others is one of the best ways to kill selfishness and self-centeredness. In Philippians 2, we are told to do nothing from selfish motives, but to consider others as more important than ourselves while looking out for their best interests. These verses serve as groundwork for the foundation on which I stand as I seek to love my family. Most of my ministry to them takes place through service to them. Whether it be doing laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, paying bills, keeping up with the budget, reading books with my children…all require me to set aside my own preferences and to joyfully seek to meet not only their needs, but desires as well. And the more I come back to this verse to remind myself that this is what pleases God, the more I enjoy doing it. If only I could always do this joyfully!
“…service is best taught through a combination of modeling and instruction.”
I have a good friend who is the epitomy of a joyful, humble servant. I cannot tell you how my family has been blessed by her, it’s simply been immeasurable! I have learned from her simply be being a recipient of her generous, selfless service to us. She has come to help us with the births of both babies (yes! She is the one who was married over the weekend), in which she lived with us for two weeks (longer the first time). During that time, there was never a meal that wasn’t on the table, laundry washed and folded, floors vacuumed, etc…that she didn’t do. Not only that, but it was common to overhear her singing as she worked. I didn’t ask her to do any of these things, either!
I also want to cultivated each child’s unique gifts so that they may serve others using their gifts and strengths. The longer I walk with the Lord, the more I understand and appreciate the beauty of His design in the body of Christ. He did not create any two of us exactly the same. Each of us has gifts, bents, and preferences that are meant to be used for His glory in the edification of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and for the purpose of living out the gospel before a world that is so in need of the Lord.
“Helping our children understand that they were uniquely designed by God to serve the needs of others helps them to realize their position in God’s kingdom. Each person will have an opportunity to live out a story of how God used them uniquely to bring his light to the world…Whether that work involves leading someone to the Lord, feeding the poor, writing a note of encouragement to a depressed friend, visiting a lonely and unloved neighbor, it is all significant to the Lord.”
I want to encourage you, fellow mother, woman, and friend to see the beauty in this. Your child(ren) and husband likely have different strengths, gifts, and preferences than you. Likewise, your friends may have a very different way of living then you. Instead of doing what comes so naturally –criticizing, complaining, and/or having a potentially arrogant attitude; receive from them. Encourage and embrace the differences the Lord has designed to exist in the body of Christ. In the lives of your children, seek to help them cultivate these gifts!
“There is a tendency to leave the work of serving others in the hands of the “professionals” or to those who have chosen as their life’s work some part of a ministerial vocation. Significantly, Jesus chose no professionals as his disciples. He chose common, ordinary men to do the work of God’s kingdom. Spiritual qualifications in the mind of Christ are not determined by the degrees a person has earned at a university or a professional resume but by the anointing of the Spirit and a willingness to serve in obedience to God’s commands…”
I love that Ms. Clarkson hit on this. It is sad, to me, that we have established hierarchies within the body of Christ, and that we have bought into the lie that formal education is necessary for one to pastor, teach others, or to share the gospel with people either here in the States or overseas. While education is certainly important and beneficial, I don’ operate under the belief system that one must go through seminary to be “qualified” to do any of these things. Some of the best teachers and pastors we’ve had the privilege of learning from have not completed high school (CJ Mahaney) and onehad yet to complete an undergrad degree. The Lord says quite plainly through Paul:
“Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God,
who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 3:5-6
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in
righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
2 Timothy 3:16
Two other important points that stood out to me included the importance of teaching our children that service is done for the glory of God and should not be done with the expectation of praise from men. If we seek the praise of men, that will be our reward. How much greater a reward awaits us when we see the Lord face to face!
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will
have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. ”Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet
before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly,
I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know
what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will
reward you. “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the
synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received
their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
And lastly, it is so easy for the details of our own lives to get in the way of serving others. My challenge to you this week
is to plan one thing to do with your children that is an act of service toward someone outside of your immediate family.