Hey friends! I think one of the greatest things we can do in this life is to serve those around us. We certainly won’t always feel like people “deserve” to be served, but according to God’s word, we are to do so regardless. Truth be told NONE of us DESERVE anything we have and we ALL could use a little serving once in a while. The nature in which Jesus loved and served everyone regardless of what sins they had committed has impacted my life greatly. The older I get, the more I see the need for grace and lavish love in this world. In fact, my Husband’s serving heart was one of the things that attracted me to him! If I have the privilege of having children some day, I hope and pray we can model a life of service to God and others for them. My childhood friend, Karen, recently shared with me her experience of teaching her son Griffin about generosity and serving others abundantly. It made me think deeply about the way I want to serve and impact others. She graciously agreed to share her story with you all. Be blessed and go serve!
“Since before Christmas, I had been trying to find ways to teach my four and five year old boys, Steven and Griffin, to be gracious givers. Like most kids their age, they are full of life and curious about the world around them so I thought it would be a good time to teach them about a few of the realities for many children. A trip to Toys “R” Us to each pick gifts for Toys For Tots recipients turned unsuccessful, because they didn’t seem to understand the purpose in buying gifts for children we didn’t know. They kept picking things out for themselves, and it seemed my attempt to explain that these were for kids that weren’t going to get many gifts fell on deaf ears. They were focused on themselves and the toys they wanted. I knew it didn’t make me a bad parent. It just wasn’t the right time for them to fully understand. I would try again soon…
Griffin came home from kindergarten one day recently, with a note from his teacher stating that his class would be hosting a canned food drive and donating the goods to a local food pantry. Here was my next opportunity! With the focus off of gifts and on to something more essential and basic like food, I thought it might be easier to make this canned food drive an experience to be remembered for my impressionable five year old. I reminded him that food is what makes us strong and gives us energy to play. I told him there were children within our own country that don’t always get three square meals a day. We had also been talking about ways to “love thy neighbor,” and helping those that are in need. When I felt like Griffin had a little bit of a grasp on childhood hunger I took him to Kroger with me. I decided to let him direct this trip after I gently steered him and his cart to the canned food isle. I’d intended to let him pick out about $25 worth of stuff with the 10 for $10 and 3 for $5 deals. We started with soup, and he wanted to get the bigger cans that would feed a whole family instead of one person. Who was I to deny his giving attitude? He picked out soups with the “green stripe” that were labeled as healthy “to make sure the kids were going to be big and strong.” They’re more expensive, but who was I to deny this logic? After several cans of soup, we moved on to vegetables. He wanted to get all kinds “in case some kids only like certain ones, then they will have what they like.” The same conversation happened with the fruit, except he decided he would get extra peaches, because “everyone loves peaches, and should be able to have some peaches.” Next came the Spaghetti-Os and Chef Boyardee across the isle. He couldn’t wait for some little kid to get something as fun as dinosaur and Super Mario Bros Spaghetti-Os, so in the basket they went. Of course, we musn’t forget about the ravioli that is so yummy, and has a full serving of vegetables! “These kids we are helping will go to bed with a full tummy and wake up happy and strong,” he exclaimed.
As we walked up to the register, Griffin saw treats like pudding Snack Packs that he wanted to get “for dessert when kids are good”. That logic I denied, because we eat fruit for dessert. If we eat fruit for dessert, the other kids need fruit as well. As we approached the register, Griffin wanted to put the cans on the conveyor belt. This took him awhile, but he made it work. No one in line behind us seemed to be impatient. Instead, they were busy commenting on how “grown up” he was for generously helping hungry children. The cashier asked if we wanted to donate a dollar to a charity they were doing in store, and even though my answer is usually “Yes,” Griffin replied “Yes, we would like to help more people.” I had Griffin in my arms by this time, and had given him my debit card so he could pay for his shopping trip. Our total bill ended up at $76. How could this be, I thought? I knew we had gone over budget, but by 3 times?!! How could I tell him we had to put some back? He’d been so thoughtful and had such a good spirit about the food drive. I’ve been told several times that I should have made a second lesson on money management, but I chose to focus on loving thy neighbor abundantly, without bounds.
He slid my card, and that was it. As I entered my pin, a sense of calm washed over me, and I knew everything would be okay. The thought of all of these kids he was assisting was so warm. As we pushed our cart to the car, Griffin told me all about how he was happy he was going to go to bed with a full tummy, and now, so were other kids. I said, “Remember how we talked about how Jesus wants us to help our neighbors?” He replied, “Yes, Mommy. It feels good to do what Jesus wants us to do. And Mommy,” he exclaimed with the power of a light bulb going off in his head “We prayed for people to not be hungry anymore, and now they won’t!” This shopping trip with my precious Griffin was priceless.”
What are some ways you are teaching (or trying to teach) your kids to give and love without boundaries?