Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. — 1 Peter 4:10
The Bible tells us that we are to serve others with the gifts we are given. Service to others is one of the primary ways we demonstrate God’s love. It also shows gratitude for the gifts, talents, and resources we have been given. Plus, it prevents entitlement from creeping into our lives.
Despite our family’s willingness to serve, my children’s ages have prevented us lending a hand at local soup kitchens and shelters. However, the volunteering we engage in with our kids doesn’t have to be “official.” We can make serving others a normal part of our everyday lives. When we work together as a family, we don’t simply teach our children they can make a difference, we demonstrate it.
Here are some creative ways you can help your children make a difference:
Donate clothing, toys and books.
Help your kids gather and organize gently-used clothes that no longer fit them, toys they have outgrown, or books they’ve already read to give to others. The items should be in good condition and be something you’d want your child to be given.
Raise money or collect items for a cause.
Set up a lemonade stand, sell baked goods, or have a garage sale. Donate a portion of the proceeds to your favorite charity. Or next time you host a birthday party, instead of gifts, ask guests to bring pet food and toys to give to a local animal shelter.
Send letters or cards.
People love receiving mail, especially now that email and texting are our go-to ways of communicating. Sit down together and write thank you letters to our troops or send words of hope to hospital patients. Send notes of appreciation to a teacher or neighbor. Kind words go a long way in encouraging others.
Keep your environment clean.
Cleaning up behind yourself is an important habit both inside and outside of the home. When kids are at the park or walking by a neighbor’s house they can pick up and properly dispose of trash they come across. At stores, kids can return shopping carts to the cart corral or put items back on shelves or hangers that have fallen. It may seem insignificant, but it lightens the load for others.
Host a service party.
Serving others can be fun especially when you are doing it with friends, and joining forces can have a big impact. Invite children to your home or a community center to participate in a service project. Kids can prepare bag lunches for distribution at homeless shelters or make gifts for seniors. Older children can cut and assemble materials that can be made into shoes. The idea is to create a hands-on experience rather than just a donation drop-off.
Find creative way to serve together.
When I volunteer for service projects or events at my kids’ school, church, or local library I look for ways for my kids to lend a hand. They can help me organize supplies, set-up or cleanup at the events, or distribute flyers.
In the book Miracle in Music City by Grammy-award winning Christian artist Natalie Grant, there are three sisters – Mia, Maddie, and LuLu – who learn that they aren’t too young to make a difference by getting involved in their mom’s annual benefit and auction. A missing guitar, new friendships, and a desire to help others take the sisters on an unexpected journey. After my daughter read this book she gained a better understanding of the needs many people have. She also grew in confidence that, despite being young, she can serve others; specifically those God puts on her heart.
This is the third book in Natalie Grant’s new chapter book series, Glimmer Girls, with a great storyline and strong, positive Christian messages for young women. If your daughters love reading series books, you’ll have to check out the entire collection!
Working together with our children, and modeling service to others has a greater impact on our children than simply just discussing it with them. If our children practice serving others with their “kid power” now, just think of how they will be prepared to share the love of God and serve others when they are older!
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What are some ways in which you serve your church or community? Do you have more ideas on how to develop a service mindset for your children? Come share with us in the comments!