Part of the WEEKLY WORD Series, No.1: SERVANT
They say the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. (I don't know who 'they' are and I don't really like being compared to an apple but in any case...) This phrase is apparently of Eastern origin and frequently used to assert the continuity of family characteristics. For example, if your father had an anger problem, you, as a son, might have hints of the same issue or at least it may be attributed to you by others.
Parents or soon-to-be parents: How will you raise children who have the heart of a servant? It's a very important question. Personally, it's something I want them to pick up from me (I certainly pray they don't pick up any of my negative characteristics!). Whether we acknowledge it or not, they will end up serving someone or something in this world.
I took a quick stroll, metaphorically speaking, throughout the short years that Daniela and I have been parents. I observed and continue to observe the ways in which our boys observe us. When it comes to serving, we have the unique responsibility to raise them in the ways of the Lord.
Here are three questions to ask as you embark on this journey...
1) Are YOU serving?
Are you giving of yourself, your time, your gifts and resources? (To clarify, they're not really yours, God blessed you with them).
If you're not serving, your children probably won't either.
Joshua speaks to the people of Israel (chapt.24) and says, "But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD (emphasis mine)."
I like this description from the Pulpit Commentary: Here speaks the sturdy old warrior (Joushua), who had led them to victory in many a battle. He invites them, as Elijah did on another even more memorable occasion, to make their choice between the false worship and the true, between the present and the future, between the indulgence of their lusts and the approval of their conscience.
Joshua made the decision to serve the Lord. We, as parents, must make the same decision.
2) Do they SEE you serving?
Now that you are serving, it's vital that your children see you serving.
Young children are paying attention to the world around them, pretty much all the time. They watch how their parents, older siblings, grandparents and/or caregivers talk, eat, treat one another, react to situations and interact with people outside the home.
Parent, you are your child's first and foremost teacher!
Do you think your children are learning from their television viewing? *Research says that they are! In fact, with as little as 20 seconds of television viewing, toddlers as young as 14 months are able to repeat actions observed during videos. What do you think a young child could learn in an hour of viewing? More importantly, what do you think they can learn from watching you several hours a day?
The point is, it's not enough to serve, they have to SEE you serve.
This is how they can begin to learn how to serve.
3) Are you serving TOGETHER?
That takes us to the next and most important step, serving together.
Serving together gives you and your child motivation.
You feed off each other. When they're not into it, you talk them back into it. You encourage them. In the same way, when you're a bit down but you see your child serving with a smile, it gives you a boost! I've experienced this and you can probably relate as well.
There is a tension that rises in those families where one or more of the parents are serving in some type of public/faith-based/community capacity and the children are either at home or simply tagging along. They may be near the activities of their parents but if they're never involved, it will be tough if not nearly impossible to nurture a servants heart.
What can you do? Start by doing simple things together. If you're children are not yet in their teen years, get them involved in 'serving' around the house with basic cooking, cleaning, and household projects. As they get older, gather them alongside you as you serve people in your community, at church, in the neighborhood, and so on. With time, you may begin to see a return on the investment you're making in them (I use the term may because there are no guarantees) and as they continue to grow spiritually, they will own this servanthood attitude for themselves.
Keep the fire burning,
Sources: 1) *https://www.canr.msu.edu/; 2) phrases.org.uk; 3) biblehub.com
with Danny & Daniela Kovacs
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