Continuing with my daughter’s book study on “The Mission of Motherhood” from Where My Treasure Is.…
“Welcome back to our book discussion of The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child’s Heart for Eternity! We are nearing the end of this jam-packed book. I hope that you have been inspired over the last several months to take seriously your very important role as mother. This week’s topic is one that has been on my mind a lot lately, so I’m excited to share my thoughts and hear yours as well. Let’s get started with Chapter 11…
One of the fundamental messages of the Bible is that all of us who belong to Christ are expected to extend His love to and to meet the needs of other believers and those in our community. We have a stewardship responsibility for which we will have to answer to God someday, giving account of the ways we have served him by reaching out in love to others. (p. 201)
Then the King will say to those on His right, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father,
inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat;
I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink;
I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;
naked, and you clothed Me;
I was sick, and you visited Me;
I was in prison, and you came to Me…
Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine,
even the least of them, you did it to me.”
Matthew 25:34-36, 40
The scriptures above weighed heavily on my mind throughout the years of young motherhood. Up until very recently, I was nagged by the feeling that I wasn’t doing “enough”. I wanted to serve others outside of my own home so badly, but I felt somewhat constrained living out in the country with a brood of young ones.
I began to wonder, “Is there any way for me to make a difference in the world?”. Of course, I believe that mothers already have the awesome opportunity to make a difference in the world by raising God-fearing children.
But I always wanted to do more. I’ve always had heart for serving others, which was strongly impressed upon me by my own mom. Since first becoming a mother myself, I’ve had a strong desire to provide a model for serving to my own children. Over the years, I stored up ideas in my head of ways my little family would serve our community – volunteering at homeless shelters, putting on charity concerts, making visits to local nursing homes, participating in an adopt-a-highway program, etc. The problem is that when you show up to volunteer with 5 kids (10 and under) people generally assume that you will contribute more disturbance and trouble than actual hard work.
After several years of mostly fruitless attempts on my own part to come up with service projects, I decided to stop worrying so much about it and try a different tactic – putting it into God’s hands. I prayed for Him to show me where He wanted me to use my “hands and feet” rather than where I thought I should use them. I purposed to keep my eyes and ears open for the opportunities that I hoped He would send.
And they came!
I found that they were not always grand, Facebook-worthy acts of service, however.
Sometimes, I when I heard of a need, I thought to myself, But that doesn’t really work into our schedule this week or That person? She is kind of grouchy though, God. She probably won’t even thank us for our service! I had to ask myself if I had actually been serious when I asked God for those service opportunities! I came to the conclusion that I’d better respond to them to the best of my ability since I had asked for them in the first place.
An amazing thing happened. The more I responded, the more opportunities He sent my way.
Service to others in need is an essential part of training and instructing our children in order to cultivate in them a loving and obedient heart. Serving others is a way to live out what the Bible would have us believe in our hearts. It puts feet to the message of the gospel. (p. 200)
In this week’s chapter, Sally reminds us that service isn’t just for the “professionals”. After all, Jesus chose common, ordinary men to do the work of God’s kingdom:
Spiritual qualifications in the mind of Christ are not determined by the degrees a person has earned at a university or a professional resume but by the anointing of His Spirit and by a willingness to serve in obedience to God’s commands. (p. 203)
As God brought to my attention small opportunities in which my children and I could serve from right where we are, I’ve learned an important lesson.
Service doesn’t always fit into tidy packages.
Being an effective worker for Christ means that we are “ready responders”.
Teaching and training my children to reach out in service isn’t all about the cool service projects I can come up with. Rather, it’s helping them to be quick respond to the needs of the people around us. And in order for us to respond, we need to be aware.
Jesus was going about all the cities and the villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. And seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd. – Matthew 9:35-36
This passage tells me that children must learn to see people as Jesus did and feel as He felt. Instead of seeing the multitude and seeing them with disdain and scorn – or as an overwhelming drain on His time – Jesus felt compassion for them. He saw the crowds as they really were. He saw their need for leadership, protection, healing, and nurture, and He responded by reaching out to them in love and by doing what He could. This is the way we need to teach our children to serve. They need to see as Jesus saw and then reach out to others in compassion, as He did. (p. 206)
So, while grand ideas for service projects are wonderful, too, let’s be careful to not discount the small, ordinary ways that we can serve as a family each and every day.
Sharing our faith is often as simple as loving others
and gently showing them the source of our love, the Lord Jesus.
A few ideas…
The ways in which we can reach out to our community are so wonderfully varied. There are so many needs just waiting to be filled by ready responders. I offer below some of the ways I’ve found that my children and I can serve right where we are with the ages we have in our home at this time. As they grow, the sphere and scope of our service will no doubt change, but I hope that our hearts will continue to be the same “ready responders”!
Make freezer meals in advance – While we’re doing our regular cooking, we can make extra, smaller portions and package them away in the freezer. That way, when we hear about someone in need, I can quickly pull something out for them and my children can make a card of encouragement to tuck in with the meal.
Visit someone who is lonely – In a society that is flooded with social media, it seems unthinkable that anyone could actually be lonely, but there are actually people who are not connected by technology and consequently, feel very out of touch with the rest of the world. For someone to actually step away from their busy schedule to make a visit can be a wonderful blessing to those people.
Be available – I’ve found that a simple way to serve is to not fill my schedule so chock full that I am not available if a friend needs to talk. People’s problems rarely come on a convenient time schedule. Being willing to get together on short notice to talk to a discouraged friend is a very simple way to serve.
Grow in hospitality – One of my goals for 2013 was to develop a heart for hospitality. Hospitality is more than just “entertaining”. It involves much more than well-orchestrated party plans and Pinterest-worthy decorations. It involves opening our home to people who are lonely or never get invited anywhere, not just our friends and family. It is a wonderful time to teach our children how to anticipate the needs of others and to fill those needs – offering to carry something in for the guests, taking their coats, offering them something to drink, thinking of interesting questions to ask guests, finding out what the visiting children like to play and doing what they want to do, etc.
Give so they can give – Giving children an allowance of some kind can help them be more sensitive to the needs of people around them. We’ve found that when our children are given some money of their own, their eyes and ears are more open to people and ministries that they can support. We have been sponsoring a child through Compassion International for several years now, which has made a big impact on our children. They hear about needs during church announcements or about needs of local charities and ask for a shopping trip to buy some small things to contribute.
Teach children to work – Training children to work in the home has blessings that are more far-reaching than a clean house! I’ve found that because my children have been taught to work hard at home, they can actually be a blessing to others. When we have been presented with opportunities to help clean someone’s home or do other physical work, my children are capable to vacuum, dust, do dishes, clean bathrooms and organize because they’re accustomed to it at home. When we visit others’ homes, they are comfortable helping out in the kitchen. We try to help clean up before we leave someone’s home.
Eyes Wide Open – I encourage my children to keep our eyes open wherever we go to see if we can spot an unfilled need. One simple thing that I always have my children do is pick up the trash at the playground we’re at for the day. Oftentimes, the small playgrounds we visit have been visited by local teenagers the night before. Dan and I invite our children to join us for a quick pick-up before we leave the park so that the next person can enjoy it more. It’s not as fancy as an adopt-a-highway program (we don’t get our name on a sign!) but it is just as effective at training the heart of a ready responder. Our next venture is to make up a few of these blessing bags to keep in our van for our winter travels.
Now it’s your turn!
I’d love to hear about some of the ways – big or small – that you and your children have found to serve those around you. As always, you are also welcome to share a favorite quote or your answer to one of the study questions from this week’s chapter, too!
Our last book discussion will be next Monday, January 13, 2014, when we will be discussion Chapter 12: The Faithful Mother.
To view all posts in this book study, click HERE.
Our lives are important to God and He has a plan for each and everyone of us, to become literal sons and daughters in His family. He gives us of His very own spirit, so we can be grow up with His characteristics, one being that of self-control.
To find out more of God’s purpose for you, please send for our booklet“What is Your Destiny?” or click below to read it in a pdf format.