Raising Our Children to Have Servant Hearts

In the early years of raising our children, we have a responsibility to raise them to know the importance of giving back to the community and teaching them why it matters. Whether it’s volunteering in the community at a local agency or crafting something at home to give to a neighbor, it all matters. As a mom of two elementary-aged kids, I want my kids to see how they fit into society and be thriving members of the community. I want them to see the needs of others and recognize if they can fill that need. Overall, I want them to constantly love others and put others first. The next generation needs to value the importance of a “you first” mentality and know they can make a positive difference in the lives of others. But, here’s the hard part – to teach your kids to love others first, it means you must model loving others first. How are you serving others and showing your kids that others matter?

We’ve all heard that modeling healthy habits such as eating well and exercising is important to model to our children, but have you thought about how you’re giving back to your community? It doesn’t mean you have to be an active volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter to model loving others. When you hear of a neighbor that is sick and not doing well, how do you respond? Or, better question, do you respond? Creating a care package to send them or writing them a “get well soon” card is a great way to love your neighbor. When you go to visit someone in the hospital or nursing home, have you ever thought to thank the care team by bringing some baked goods or personally going to them and thanking each one for all they are doing? These small acts of kindness go a long way, and your kids are watching you. You can make an impression on not only the people you are serving and loving, but by instilling this “you first” mentality, on your children as they watch you in action, as well. If this is you, and you look for ways to love others throughout the week, round of applause! It doesn’t come naturally for many of us. You must be attentive and listen to the needs of those in your community and then take action to respond. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable and not always convenient, but that’s all part of the process, right? Putting others first and loving big is not always convenient, but the reward is amazing.

Small ways to instill these values into your children include baking cookies for friends and neighbors, tipping big at a restaurant, leaving a handmade card in your mailbox for the mailman, sending a care package to friend or family member that is serving in the military, bringing your neighbors trash can back to their house after it’s emptied or cleaning up litter around the playground. It doesn’t have to be large or official to make it have meaning and to make a difference in the lives of others.

In addition to finding small, daily ways to serve others while including your children, you can also seek out community service opportunities at local agencies and programs.

  1. Get involved at a food bank or homeless shelter There are opportunities to sort food, count food, create food boxes and serve warm meals at several agencies throughout the area. Being behind the scenes at an agency prepping and sorting food is a great community opportunity for those that are not as extroverted but still want to be hands on helping the food insecurity needs in our community.
  2. Donate items to local shelters Many local shelters and agencies throughout the triad take used donations to either give away to those in need or to sell in their thrift store to help with funding their programs. Many organizations also have a list of their most-needed items on their website, and you can purchase and donate to support their programs.
  3. Visit retirement and nursing homes Seniors love children and light up when they spend time with them. Many nursing homes have opportunities for you to visit with seniors or craft alongside them. If you have a child that is quiet and prefers to be behind the scenes, you can have them craft and create items to donate to nursing homes. Just by dropping off items and having your child see the environment and who their craft is going to makes an impression on not only your children, but the staff and seniors, as well!
  4. Provide hope and healing for those going through medical challenges Our local hospitals provide volunteer opportunities to support patients as well as healthcare workers. In addition to local hospitals, look around at outlying community agencies that support the local hospitals. End-of-life centers and non-profit organizations that house family members of patients are agencies where you can get your family involved. Some agencies need meals to provide family members or love having community members make window art for patients and family members to look at throughout the day. There are a variety of needs and opportunities in our area for you to get involved!

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” ~ Martin Luther King






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