One of the greatest things about being a parent is helping my children to find joy. As a Christian, I know that real joy comes from God, through following His Son’s example. What was the main thing Christ did during His time on earth?
Service to others!
Teaching children to have a heart of service will help them find the joy that many look for their entire lives (but never find). If you want your children to feel fulfilled in their lives, be happy, unselfish people, and remain active in the service of God, they must learn to make a habit of serving others.
(Note: read about the author of this article at the end of this blog post!)
Mosiah 1:49 “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God”.
Why do we go to church?
Recently, I heard two moms discussing the importance of church attendance, especially when raising children. The really neat thing about the conversation was the part about WHY we should go to church. I (and many others) tend to go with a kind of default logic “we go to church to worship God”. While this IS true, the thing that KEEPS people going to church is BEING INVOLVED. If you want to be “fed” at church, YOU need to bring “food” (I’m speaking in the spiritual sense of things). Have you ever heard “you’ll get out of it what you put into it”? This is true with anything. School studies, work, exercise, and certainly relationships, including a relationship with God. Do you want your children to have a personal testimony of the truth of Jesus Christ (and, if you don’t have one, do you want one?)? Get INVOLVED in God’s work!! The results are literally instantaneous- you will begin to feel true joy deep in your heart, a fulfillment that nothing else in the world can bring.
What are some of the ways children can serve others?
The important thing for all of these ideas is that you discuss WITH your child the reasons behind them. If your child understands the concept of “looking for ways to serve”, they might just surprise you and come up with some creative service ideas of their own!
Clean up a mess they DIDN’T make. Encourage your child to look for something they can do to help another sibling, like picking up toys in brother’s room, or making sister’s bed.
Serve others their food, especially dessert! This not only helps solidify the concepts of service, politeness, and hospitality to your child, it also is a lesson in delayed gratification.
Color pictures and write letters to relatives and friends. Everyone loves getting mail the old fashioned way!
When they earn money, encourage them to consider putting offering in the plate to help those less fortunate.
Teach them to be grateful. A thankful heart is an unselfish heart. Unselfish people think of others and their needs.
Have your child shake hands with someone they don’t know, look them IN THE EYE, and say “Good morning” (good to practice at home before you get there)
If possible, have children hand out the “order of service” leaflets to congregation.
Have children recite or read scripture verses or poems at early morning worship.
See if Sunday School classes are focusing on ministry. Suggest that class time involves learning songs to sing during church service, creating crafts and cards for others during special occasions or for sick members of the branch, etc.
At potluck, have your children wait for the elderly to go through the line first. If old enough to carry a plate or drink without spilling, see if they can help someone else before they get their food.
Incorporate your child’s talents in serving others. If your child plays the piano, get them on the ministry schedule to play at church.
Pick up trash! On the property, in the sanctuary, anywhere they see something on the ground, they can grab it and place it in the wastebasket.
Service with a smile
2nd Corinthians 9:7 “So let [every man] give; not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver.”
How do we teach our children to serve happily, and not because “mom made me do it”?
If in serving others (yes, including YOUR family), YOU have a happy spirit, your children will see that joy and want to emulate it. If YOU are looking for ways to assist other people every day, and do it cheerfully, because you want to, that example will carry over to your kids.
Giving a reward once in a while to a child who has unselfishly helped another is a great way to solidify a heart of service.
Witnessing TO your Children
There are so many great resources for providing ministry to your children. Reading “The 5 love languages of Children” is a fantastic way to figure out what kind of love each of your children needs, and how to meet that need. There are websites and blogs devoted to engaging and stimulating your children’s minds, and many are focused on activities surrounding scriptural teachings.
We’re going to focus on two specific areas for ministering to your kids at home- Family Devotions and Mommy Tapes.
In our home, family devotions have become a great way to wind things down at the end of the day and give our kids the clue that bedtime is near. Our devotion time consists of a short story (several resources mentioned below), discussion of questions or theme in the story, two songs, and prayer(s). Be careful not to make this routine too long, or it can become a burden for you and/or your husband. 10 minutes MAX is fine for children under five.
I like to ask my boys about their day, and incorporate the lesson from the devotion into something from our day. Here are a couple books that have questions and scriptures to go along with each devotion subject:
5 Minute Devotions for Children & MORE 5 Minute Devotions for Children
Wise Words for little people (Kenneth Taylor), Big Thoughts for Little People, Giant Steps for little people
One thing that I believe to be VERY important, is when you as a family read the scripture verse, to actually physically open the Bible and turn to the chapter and verse. It might seem like an unimportant extra step, but helping your children to look directly in the scriptures from a very early age will drive home the importance of studying God’s word, and make it a habit.
Usually the songs we sing are religious campfire songs or hymns. This helps little ones be more prepared at church and reunions, because they’ll know the songs everyone is singing!
Praying with our children is the last part of our family devotions. We like to close our day by thanking God for all His blessings, asking Him to help us sleep good and to follow what He wants us to do tomorrow. We usually let either or both of the boys say a prayer if they choose, then Mommy or Daddy says a prayer afterwards.
Family devotion time can tackle at least 3 of the “love languages” mentioned in the book above. “Quality Time”, “Words of Affirmation”, and “Physical Touch” (snuggles) can all be accomplished during this special time right before bed. Make family devotions a routine in your house, and you will come closer to each other and to God!
Witnessing To Your Child- MOMMY TAPES
A great way to minister to your children is to create a “Mommy Tape”. This is a recording of your voice to be played for your children that shares important information with them. The recording can be played any time of day, but my favorite time is at bedtime (after devotions) when they have laid down to go to sleep. Below are instructions on how to make your Mommy Tape.
Write your Mommy Tape Script
Some ideas for what to put into your Mommy Tape :
Get a mic you can plug into your computer
Purchase blank cds
Install “Audacity” on your computer
This program is VERY easy to use, and you can transfer completed recordings to Windows Media Player to burn on your blank cd! Be sure to double check and make sure your recording transfers to your cd (by putting it in a cd player and listening to a minute or two of it before you present it to your kids).
Record, Edit, and Burn your Mommy Tape, and Enjoy!
About the Author:
Sarah Smith is the daughter of Holly McLean, the founder of Mentor4Moms. She was home schooled from grade 4 and a sister of 8. She was very helpful to mother in many ways and enjoyed being a part of the care and teaching of her 6 younger siblings as she grew up. Sarah is now a successful stay-at-home wife to husband, Thoric Smith, and mother of two boys ages 2 & 4. She spends much of her time working on projects and events that minister to others in her church including a support teacher and mentor in the Mentor4Moms ministry.