Make a Difference – Nurture A Servant’s Heart
I stood there in shock. I couldn’t believe my ears. It had been my dream to learn I had done this. After nearly 7 years of youth ministry, I was hearing the words. I was speechless…..
Paying It Forward
Making a difference in kids’ lives had been my mission since I was a teen. It was during the most difficult time in my life, the death of a friend and member of my singing quartet, when I received the support I needed from adults in my church. They demonstrated servant’s hearts. I was moved by this, and by my senior year in high school realized I wanted to pay it forward.
Helping kids by cheering them on, providing them a listening ear, and giving them opportunities to stretch and grow was hard work but a great joy.
Moving Kids Perspectives From i to You
In a society filled with i-this and i-thats, we need to get kids looking at the living breathing human beings they are walking past as they stare into their screens.
One of the most empowering gifts you can give kids is the chance to see that they can make a difference. Now, not when they are all grown up, but at this very moment.
Make Like a Tree….
The moments I observed my youth paying kindness forward was magical. They were growing servant’s hearts! Watching them reach out and talk with a sweet, arthritic home owner as we raked leaves in her enormous yard was really what the project was all about. Physically helping and emotionally connecting to those they were serving. We went to her house several times, and the kids started thinking about what else she needed. They were thinking beyond themselves. After our visits, they had smiles on their faces and felt good about what they had done.
Placing kids in circumstances where they could see life from another person’s perspective inspired them to think through how they themselves could help make it better. Consequently, it also made them reflect on their own lives and appreciate what they themselves had. This was what it was all about. Opening their eyes.
Kids as pre-teens and teens start to become very self-conscious. Their enthusiasm and confidence to take on the world diminishes. Insecurities take over and make them turn inward. They grow blind to all the wonderful things they can do. Service helps them think beyond themselves and realize their own value by changing other people’s lives. Sometimes that something is as simple as making others smile.
Ideas Up the Wazoo Begins Here
Parents, the opportunities are endless on how you can inspire your child to blossom through service. Here are just a few:
Working with Habitat for Humanity your teen can experience the heartfelt teamwork of people giving their time and money so that someone else can have a roof over their head. A place to feel safe and call home.
Locks of Love is an organization you can donate hair to. They create wigs for children who have health issues that cause hair loss.
My favorite event to host could also be done at home as a family, World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine. For 30 hours we could only drink juice. During this time of being hungry, we would participate in different service events like serving meals at a gospel mission. This gave kids the opportunity to look into the eyes of the people they were feeding. Sometimes they were surprised to see the face of a classmate as they handed them a plate of food. Every year we would study a different country and learn about their specific struggles with war and/or famine.
As a family, you can also participate in the World Vision – Child Sponsorship program. One of the positives of technology has been that now your kids can get to know the child you sponsor. Make it a family project. Take time to learn and get to know your sponsored child through photos and emails. This way your kids can truly connect with the little person you support on the other side of the world.
There are so many other ways you can introduce your child to participating in service. Explore the many ways to grow servant’s hearts!
…So, Why Was I Speechless?
It had been awhile since I’d seen Allison. She had been in youth group for four years while I was working at her church before heading off to college. Allison was a very quiet kid. She had a sweet smile and a gentle spirit. Allison participated in many youth events. Now that I think about it, she often attended the service project events. Anyway, she was going to college to major in math.
I’d occasionally see her mom after that but since Connie’s girls had grown out of youth group our paths didn’t cross as much. But one day they did.
It was a delight to talk with her. She was always such a sunny lady to be around. You couldn’t help but smile when you were with her.
Then it happened. Connie said to me, “The service projects you had the youth group do really impacted Allison. She changed her major from math to social work because of you. You made a difference.”
Bringing It To Your Home
Weave the joy of serving others into your family activities, and you will weave compassion (the pulse of servant’s heart) into your child forever. You will make a difference. And so will they.