This summer, Watermark is prioritizing how we can love our city by encouraging people to serve with one of our partner ministries.
Although it would be great if everyone took part, it’s true that signing up to serve is easier for some people than others. As a parent of young kids, I know that just getting all of them out of the house to do anything together can feel like a challenge. Between busy schedules, never-ending housework, and the thought that kids won’t be that helpful at serving anyway, it’s easy to write off summer serving as something for other people to do—or something that you can do only if someone else is staying at home with the kids.
However, having your kids serve together with you is not only possible, but it can be a really good idea. It’s something that can benefit you and your family while you are out there helping others.
Here are some reasons you should consider serving with your kids:
Serving Teaches Kids to be Selfless
Kids start off selfish. Think about it: babies aren’t very considerate of your schedule or your needs. Toddlers think that every toy in the world belongs to them alone, and must be taught how to share.
Adults are naturally selfish, too, but we’ve had more time to work on it. We’ve learned the importance of caring for others and considering their needs in addition to our own (Philippians 2:3-4). We need to teach kids to do the same, and serving alongside each other is a great way to demonstrate that.
Now, I know the very real scenario of “I could have done this task by myself twice as fast if the kids weren’t ‘helping’ me do it.” So, it might feel like you could get more “serving” accomplished if you did not involve your children. However, by leaving them out, you would miss out on the opportunity to teach them how to serve. It’s not only about serving others; it’s also about discipling your kids.
Serving Gives Kids Perspective
Before kids can selflessly consider the needs of other people, they first have to know that those people and needs exist. Children must learn that the world does not revolve around them, and that not everyone in the world lives the way they do.
Serving people who have different circumstances or backgrounds can help your kids better understand and empathize with others. It humanizes the homeless person they see on the street corner or the elderly neighbor in a wheelchair. It gets your kids out of their bubble, in a good way, with you there to answer their questions, explain the difficulties people are facing, and discuss the ways to solve (or perhaps prevent) those problems.
With their newfound perspective, your kids will hopefully become more grateful for what they have, and become more generous in how they share what they have to meet the needs of others.
Serving Is Fun for Kids
A couple of weeks ago, our dishwasher wasn’t working. While waiting a few days for a repairman, we had to wash all dishes by hand. To me, washing dishes is not fun. That’s why we have a machine to do it: so that I don’t have to do it myself.
On a whim, I asked my five-year-old daughter if she wanted to wash the dishes instead. To my surprise, her response was an enthusiastic “Yes!” And to my even greater surprise, once she started washing dishes, we couldn’t get her to stop. She loved it. We had to limit her dishwashing: “No, you can’t wash any more dishes until you eat your vegetables.”
Often, what seems like a dull chore to adults is a fun challenge for kids. They want to serve. It makes them feel capable, grown-up, and important. That’s not a guarantee that they will enjoy every act of service, but don’t say their “No” for them.
Serving Creates Family Memories
Kids grow up fast, and you want to make the most of your time together. Serving with your kids is a way to teach them, have fun with them, and make memories as a family.
In 10 years, no one will remember that week in July that you spent at home avoiding the heat. But you and your kids might remember that time you went and packaged meals for children in other countries or helped host a fun back-to-school party in West Dallas. By doing something meaningful and out of the ordinary, you create memories that everyone can enjoy looking back on in the future.
Serving Serves Others
So far, these reasons to serve together are all about how it benefits you and your children. But let’s not forget that these acts of service literally do serve others. The main goal of serving is to show Christ’s love to others (1 John 4:9), and kids can sometimes be great at that.
In some cases, just having your kids present as you serve can help encourage others and brighten their day. For example, when we go to visit a family member in a nursing home, other residents are all smiles at seeing the kids—even though we are not there to “serve” them at all.
There are a lot of people in our city who could use your family’s help. Don’t miss your opportunity to serve Christ by serving them (Matthew 25:35-40).
How to Serve With Your Kids
Right now, you may be thinking, “That’s great—but, how do I serve with my kids?”
There are several opportunities to serve with your family available on our “Love Our City” page. All of these are trusted ministries that we partner with as a church to serve people in our city. All you have to do is pick one and click to sign up.
There are also plenty of other ways you and your kids can serve within your neighborhood or even within your own home. If you have an empty seat at your dinner table, an empty bedroom, or empty dates on your calendar, those are resources God has given you that could be used to invite others in and serve them.
As you serve together, use it as an opportunity to explain to your kids why you are serving. We serve not to gain favor with God (Ephesians 2:8-9) or with other people (Galatians 1:10), but rather to share God’s love with them (1 John 3:17). It is something God has created and equipped us to do (Ephesians 2:10). By serving, we can be a light to others and point them towards the One who can truly meet their needs (Matthew 5:16). Serving together serves as a reminder of the gospel—to those you serve, to your kids, and to yourself.