This past summer, my daughter was home after college graduation and wanted to get together with some of the little girls that were in her small groups over the years. She sent out an invitation to come to tea, and the planning and prep began! The big day came, and the young ladies arrived in their beautiful finery complete with bows and pearls. Manners were practiced. British accents were attempted. Cookies were eaten. And yes, tea (or lemonade) was politely sipped—after they added lots of sugar, of course. At one point amidst the food and games, they loaded up plates of extra cookies and twirled their way to a nearby cul-de-sac to share with the grandmas and grandpas that lived there. They introduced themselves, curtsied, and giggled their way through the cookie distribution, leaving the recipients with huge smiles as they departed. Some of those they visited were not able to get around very well and don’t receive a lot of guests, so this visit was most definitely a highlight of their day. Maybe even their month.
It was a simple gesture from the little ladies. It didn’t take a lot of effort. It was just the natural progression of the fun they were already having. When we think about helping our kids understand what it means to serve others, we can often associate it with events or programs which can be great and is effective. But our small group environments offer us a unique opportunity to share stories and challenge our kids to share the love of Christ by how they live each day.
Here are some ideas to keep in mind:
- Share examples of how you have been able to incorporate service into your life recently. Perhaps it was helping a neighbor shovel a snowy driveway or making double for dinner to deliver to someone who was recently injured. Setting the example of service helps our young concrete thinkers see practical love in action.
- Remind them that we should treat others the way we want to be treated. Talking about how we feel when others serve us is an important step in helping our kids put themselves in someone else’s shoes.
- Brainstorm ideas with your few by thinking through the routines of the day, and then listing ways to serve others. Giving to others can become something that is not just achievable but also something that can be initiated by them.
We should remember that moving them out can be more than planning events throughout the year. It’s also about planting an attitude that inspires service throughout their day. In this holiday season where it is easy to focus on what we get, let’s take time to challenge our children to have an attitude of service that shows up in their day in any number of ways, bringing a heart like Jesus, full of compassion and love to the world around them.
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Written by Karis Stiles
Director of Children’s Strategy at Parker Hill Church