A year or so ago, the Hubs and I really began to examine what the "big picture" was suppose to be in our house. One of our greatest desires is that our children learn to love God and love others. We hope that they will learn to have a ministry-mindset whether God calls them to "THE Ministry" or not. One key element to beginning to love others the way that God would have us love them is to begin seeing that there is more to life than just ourselves...to begin to see service to others as an opportunity to serve Christ...because in truth, it's about Him, not us.
Perhaps because we both came from very "old-school" style churches or because it was difficult for us to think outside the box...when the Hubs and I were newly married, we fell into the trap of believing that "service" meant volunteering for church nursery, having the youth group over for a bonfire, or being a chaperone on the church van. And it is...but it is also SO MUCH MORE! When you limit your "service" to just the church or even to just the church body, you miss out on so many opportunities to share God's love with those who need it most. It's true what Matt. 5:47 speaks of...if Christians are friendly to only our friends (other Christians), how are we any different from anyone else?
It took us a while, but we both started to see our everyday skills/passions as ways to love others. I truly believe that in most situations, you can't meet the need in a person's heart until you can first meet the need in their hand. Christ was the perfect example of "outreaching." More often than not, he provided for a person's physical needs before He ever attempted to provide for their Spiritual ones.
That being said, we definitely have felt a call in the last year to begin sharing this new-found notion with our children. We want this home to be a greenhouse for our little ones to find their passions, talents, and gifts and begin molding them and growing them in an environment where they can receive due-praise when they succeed and much-needed encouragement when they fail. In the realm of service, we wanted to be able to provide ample opportunity for our children to get their feet wet in many different areas of service...to begin thinking outside the four walls of our church to be able to share God's love and to find their own unique way of doing it.
That brings us to our newest form of "family fun", Service Saturday. We have determined that, to the best of our ability, we will set aside one Saturday a month to serve someone(s) that God has brought into our lives. We quickly decided that our service mornings won't be a permanent standard on a "particular" Saturday each month, because we want it to be a natural leading of God in our hearts and in the hearts of our little ones. We also don't want to sign up for an on-going service project since one of our main goals is to provide examples of all different kinds of service so that each of our children can consider/learn how God can use their own individual giftedness and talents for His glory. In short, we pray that these small efforts will begin growing a passion in our children to see beyond themselves to the bigger picture of why God has them here on earth...to live a life that leads others to the truth of God's love.
Last fall was our first attempt...
God had been laying our local librarians on my heart for several weeks. My "world" is very small and consists of our immediate neighbors and the couple of places outside of church and home that the kids and I frequent...the library being the top of that small list. The librarians know that we are homeschoolers for "religious reasons" and they know us by name. We frequent their little spot at LEAST once a week and they serve us well. When I began thinking and praying about who God would have us "love on" first, I immediately thought of the librarians who have seen us at both our best and our worst of days. Women who we have begun to develop friendships with. Women who know us by our "religion", but not necessarily by our FAITH.
For just about an hour one crisp, fall morning, we spent our time helping these ladies with some of their grunt work. And although we did some of the jobs that THEY least enjoy...re-sorting the picture book bins and organizing the puzzle area...the CHILDREN couldn't have loved it more. It was amazing to see their faces when they realized they were doing something that TRULY helped someone else, not just "helped" someone else. They were doing jobs that they could ACTUALLY do all by themselves and have the privilege of sincerely being blessed by blessing others. Even little Blonde Warrior and Greased Lightening...while the older two were putting their ABC skills to good use re-sorting/re-shelving books, the little ones helped gather all the wayward legos that were strewn about the children's area. We left the library that morning with the three older ones all saying, "Who do we get to serve next?" They had grins from ear to ear and couldn't wait until the next time we could all go and have fun serving together as a family.
Since that introductory day, we have had several other opportunities to serve the people in our community and beyond. We make every effort to ensure that the "service" is something that each one of our Littles is able to do ALL BY HIM/HERSELF.
In the coming months, I look forward to sharing some more of our Saturday Service opportunities.
In the meantime, are there any fun service projects that you and your family have been apart of...I'm always looking for great ideas.