When my children were young, I started volunteering for hospice. My son was about 4 years old and one couple I visited loved it when I brought him along. We would bring toy cars, so that he could play on the floor, while I would sit and talk with the couple. When the gentleman’s wife died, he was truly alone, since they had no children and he had become isolated by taking care of his wife at home for several years. In his sorrow, our visits meant more than ever to this gentleman. Before we knew it, he was coming to our family celebrations and we realized our entire family had made a good friend! He gave to us much more than we could have ever given to him!
At the Last Supper, Jesus drove home the importance of service when he washed the feet of his disciples. Humble, loving service allows us to express our love to God!
If we want to teach our children service, the most effective way is to demonstrate it. To live with an attitude of loving service towards others. We should make it a part of our everyday life, not a “project” or “duty.” We serve each other within our own homes, we help our neighbors shovel their driveway, we become a greeter at church, we feed the homeless, etc. We look for ways to use the gifts and talents that God gave us. There is never a shortage of ways to serve! We should include the kids in anyway possible… let them share ideas!
In addition, I think that it is important that a family talks about why it is a joy to serve. We can reflect on how we are the ones who are blessed when we serve. “How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good he has done for me?” Psalm 116:12. We can talk about how good God has been to us, and how this is a way to give back to Him. Besides, to serve with love, usually doesn’t feel like service….it just feels like blessing!
(Anne Dols, former Pastoral Care Minister, St. Theresa Church, Des Moines)