One of our family values is hospitality, although sometimes we rephrase it to “caring for others”. We want to teach our children to serve others rather than be self serving.
The best way to teach our children to serve others is to serve others ourselves and as a family. We teach by example and help our children to “catch” God’s heart for His people by modelling that compassion in the limited ways we can.
As adults, we know that serving others can often be a messy, tiring business and so we rationalise that it would be easier to do when children are not around. We wait until they are in the care of our spouse or we put off service until our children are older, waiting for the “perfect” time to minister that will likely never materialise.
If we want our children to serve, they need to see us serve. They need to know that serving is messy, that it’s not necessarily fun, that the fruit is not always seen immediately. They will learn that best by learning to serve alongside us.
I’m not suggesting that we place our children in dangerous situations or distress them in any way. They can help us prepare a meal for a family in need and allow them to help deliver it. Have them write notes or draw pictures to accompany your sympathy or get well card. Encourage them to pray for others, regularly.
Encourage them to identify needs around your home and assist them to fulfill them before you ask them to identify he needs of friends and extended family or in the world around us. Encourage kindness, compassion and generosity. Love your children extravagantly. Show them the heart of God.