Service. Community Service. I thought about titling this post “Community Service,” but then I reconsidered. Isn’t “community service” a negative thing now? Isn’t that the sort of smack-on-the-wrist punishment celebrities and college students get for breaking the law?
Maybe there is a trendier, hipper name for it now, but I wouldn’t know. I’ve spent the past 11 years having babies and changing diapers and potty-training. I’m just now coming out of my cocoon.
Maybe it’s called “giving back” or “volunteering” or “making a difference.” Whatever it’s called, that’s what I’m talking about today. The S-Word. Service
I learned about community service in 4-H. We sang Christmas carols at assisted living facilities and nursing homes. We collected food for The Salvation Army. We packaged Christmas gifts for poor children. We made Christmas ornaments for a family who lost everything in a flood.
And I’ll never forget going door-to-door to collect money for United Way. I’ll especially never forget the time I ran through a field after a grumpy old man had told us no. He stood there and watched as I ran straight into his electric fence! As I flew backwards, I think I heard him chuckling!
As I got older, I became involved in church youth groups and clubs at school that also gave me opportunities to serve my community. One of my favorite Christmas memories is from my senior year of high school. A club I was in organized a school dance, and the price to get in was one toy. We wrapped toys and helped deliver them to some of the children we “adopted” that Christmas. I remember one mother’s tears as we delivered gift bags full of toys for her children.
As a mother, I want my own children to have those same sorts of memories. I want them to know the joy of serving other people.
I try to be intentional about the word “serve.” I’ll say things like, “Please serve your brother his milk.” or “Won’t it be fun to serve your brothers and sisters today? You get to set the table.” or “You have hurt your brother, now you can serve him by doing his chore for him.” I want my children to know that serving others is a normal part of life. We serve others because we love them, because they sometimes serve us, because we’ve hurt them and need to show we’re sorry. We serve others because that’s what being a family is — serving each other. We serve others, ultimately, because God first served us and we follow His example.
In the coming days, I’d like to talk about practical ideas for teaching our children to serve. I’d also love to hear from you. Do you have memories of community service from your youth? How did you learn the importance of serving others?