Growing up in our family, my parents always made opportunities for us as kids to be invested into the lives of other people (maybe intentionally or maybe just because that’s who they were). I can still say that to this day, my mom and dad are some of the most servant-hearted people I know.
I can remember going to the rescue mission to help fix meals for the homeless, visiting widows and shut-ins, and serving missionaries and the members of the churches where my dad pastored. Much of our family time growing up included time spent serving others together. And what better way to make memories together than to do it by making a real difference at the same time.
I hope and pray that as our own children grow, we can develop within them the same servant’s mindset that our parents naturally instilled into us. If I could try and describe it best, I’d have to say that our parents always taught us how to be open-handed – to live a life characterized by the spirit of generosity.
Jesus Himself operated an open-handed ministry. He came to seek, to save, and to serve.
Here are three ways that your family can stay open-handed during the upcoming seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas:
1. GIVE (of your time and your money)
Making your family life about more than just living for yourselves leaves a valuable impression upon the hearts and minds of your children – an impression that will ultimately become a part of their character.
Learn to have fun as a family by saving money to give to special projects (missions, needy families, a widow) and by spending time thinking and planning ways that you can get creative to give of your money and yourselves to meet others’ needs.
Galatians 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
Matthew 10:8 Freely ye have received, freely give.
A few years ago, our family saved up $100 with the specific intent of going out to eat and finding a family in the restaurant whose meal we could buy. We prayed over the choice of the restaurant and that the right family would be there. And God clearly answered. Seeing the expressions on that families’ faces when complete strangers bought their meal was a priceless lesson I don’t think our kids will ever forget.
2. SERVE (those in leadership and those in need)
One of the most powerful things you can ever do for your kids is developing in them a servant’s heart for others. Specifically, teach them ways to love and serve those in leadership and those in need.
Also, when a need is brought to your families’ attention, don’t just sweep it under the rug if you have the wherewithal to meet it. Your kids will take notice.
Proverbs 3:27 Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.
I can think of an instance in particular recently when our daughter felt led to bless a waitress with an additional $25 of her own money to help with any need she might have. However, in that proud dad moment, I couldn’t help but recognize that her generosity was a perpetuated reflection of the generosity of her mother who has done the same thing on multiple occasions over the years. 🙂
3. LOVE (because our heart is a reflection of God’s)
If there is anything that we want our kids to get a hold of, it’s the lifestyle of loving God and loving people. When we teach our kids to give and serve, we naturally teach them to love.
If we can pass down the characteristic of an open-handed love to the future generation, we’ve actually contributed to a greater future difference in the world than we could have ever made ourselves.
John 15:9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
If we really want to get honest, our kids’ level of open-handedness will most likely be an accurate reflection of our own. And our open-handedness needs to be an accurate reflection of Christ’s.
May our heart’s desire be that of the Apostle Paul when he said, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”
With Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner, the opportunities to be open-handed as a family abound. Get creative. Make memories and make a difference at the same time. In what ways does your family plan to serve others during this season?