A few weeks ago, our church was a part of an awesome opportunity to serve. They cancelled all the services for the weekend and 3500 people went out and served in the community. It was so great to be a part of it.
We were particulary looking forward to this because we are always looking for creative ways to get our kids involved in serving as well. As the day approached, my husband and I suddenly realized our 7 year-old may be upset when he realized he would not only be giving up part of his Saturday but also have to get up before the sunrise to do it! So we opted not to tell him before we did it! Something I’m not usually into doing but we did it anyway. We also tried to think of ways to make it fun.
Early Saturday I woke him. He was confused. I said to him, “Mommy and Daddy have something very important we need your help with today. Before we go we will get some breakfast at _______”. (Yes, I can’t even say the words of the place we took him. My friends will know! Someplace we do not take our children!) He got out of bed, reluctantly, and griped as he put on his matching t-shirt (who could blame him!).
He’s a bright kid and quickly realized what was up. We let him complain and get it out- validated getting up early and putting on matching green t-shirts- and went on our way.
He started out by helping Daddy outside. Then he came inside and asked if he could help me. I was really surprised! I expected him to help my husband, then sit and complain about wanting to go home. He helped me scrub toilets! By the way- yes- ME, the germ-a-phobic, got to scrub the toilets! THAT is true service and showing Jesus to people! I could only do that in His name! lol Then he went back out to help Daddy again ( I don’t blame him, wish I could have, too!).
We were finally finished and headed back to the church for a picnic. I wanted to start a conversation to see how he was feeling. Before I could even start it he said to us, “Mommy and Daddy, thank you for letting me do this today with you!” Oh wow- I teared up (of course) and honestly, didn’t know what to say. I gathered myself together and thanked him for his kind spirit and his giving heart. When my son went for a refill I told my husband that we must be doing something right- our son had just thanked us for letting him serve!
What a proud parent moment. But more than that, I realized my son had felt that feeling inside that we get when we help others in need. That warm glow and burst of energy that can only be felt when we feel and release compassion. That healthy sense of confidence you feel, knowing that you touched someone and gave them hope. He didn’t realize that was what he was feeling, but I knew it. I was so happy for him.
I’m sharing this with you for multiple reasons (besides just bragging on my son!). I want to encourage you to think today-
1. When was the last time you felt that glow? That glow is purpose! What can you do in the near future for someone- to lend compassion to them and to help you feel more purpose in your life?
2. How can you be creative in teaching kids compassion? One thing we did to start the day off in a positive way was by taking him to the “forbidden” restaurant for breakfast. That was important to keep things positive. It wasn’t a bribe- “If you do this, we will take you out for breakfast.” No- it really was an attempt to create a positive feeling about the day. It was fun.
3. Just when you think you are the queen of service and can do it all- God puts you in charge of cleaning the toilets!! (another blog for another day!)
I hope you have a blessed week! Thank you for reading.
Written by Natalie Chandler
Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville