Thursday, April 19, 2012

Serving as a Family

As a Christian home schooling mom, I consider teaching my kids to serve to be one of my top priorities. It is not something "to do when they get older" or "when they are ready". I strongly believe that serving needs to be core in our daily lives. I need to teach them why we serve and how to serve. The basic act of meeting needs is one of the simplest ways we can participate in the Great Commission. That said, I also have a huge responsibility to serve in a way that is safe for my kids, age-appropriate and preferably teaches us all something too. Since I have children in a wide range of ages, I have found it is best to serve as a family. Here are some of the more structured ways we have served:

When we are presented with a service opportunity, we ask ourselves if we have time. We guard our time knowing that the most important ministry we have in this season of life is our own children. But, that must be balanced with being intentional about teaching service. If the answer is yes, we do have time or want to make time, then we ask if we can serve together. Sometimes mom, dad, and the teenagers are working while the younger kids are participating in the program. Other times, we are all working together, right down to our youngest child. It just depends on the work we are doing. 

I also believe that serving does not need to be a scheduled event. Those things are good too and definitely have their place, but I love it when we can just be ready, at the Holy Spirit's leading to serve. Some simple things we do to be available to serve are:

  • Realizing that we can serve our family in a myriad of ways everyday and intentionally finding ways to do that.
  • Keeping the common areas of the house ready (or close to ready - 15 min worth of tidying or less) for impromptu company. Honestly, I have struggled a ton with this one. I have a major pride issue here centered around having my house look "right". I am tons better than I used to be (when I just wouldn't have anybody over unless it was spotless) but am not where I want to be yet. I am able now, to frequently have people over, but still feel that prideful twinge looking around and seeing things that could look nicer. But, I am so convicted that making our home available for God's use is one of the most important things we can do. He blessed us with our homes and they truly should be used in any way He sees fit. It is my desire to show hospitality to anyone He brings to my door and be sensitive to His leading when He nudges me to invite someone over. I hope to write more about this soon - He has been up to a lot in this department lately!
  • Keeping a plastic bin in the back of the car filled with pre-packed lunch bags for the homeless. I read about this idea from Lorrie Flem several years ago and loved it! We packed our bags with non-perishable items from the dollar store like vienna sausages for protein, apple sauce, water bottles, granola bars, sunscreen (in the summer), Bible tracts and sometimes gift cards for fast food or a single dollar (enough to use for a value menu fast food item, but not enough to buy something detrimental). This is a good reminder for me to stock up another bin with these bags!
  • Keeping the pantry well-stocked with basic items that can either stretch a meal for extra guests, or can be quickly made into a meal or treat to take to someone.
  • Keeping a bit of extra bedding on hand plus a Hide-A-Mat from Costco (only $48!)  for extra sleeping space.
  • Listening! This is so simple but so effective. I have heard about so many needs that I could simply meet by just paying attention. We have been able to provide Christmas gifts for kids whose dad was unemployed, taken meals to people who needed them, given rides to those who didn't have one, and "scooted over to make room for one more" when someone needed a place to stay, a meal to eat or just an ear to listen. 
How do you and your family serve? I love hearing new ideas! And, how is God asking you to serve in the future?

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