Teaching Your Children to Serve

One of the things that I have recently been pondering is how we can do a better job of building a culture of servanthood in our home. Culture pushes such a “me first” mentality that is completely opposite of Jesus’ “be a servant of all” teachings.

As we study what the Bible says about servanthood, let’s consider how we can change the way we think and act in order to show our children a better way to serve others.

teaching your children to serve

What does the Bible say about servanthood?

First, the Bible is clear from the beginning to end that God’s people should consider themselves His servants. God calls Abraham, Job, Jacob ,Moses, David, and many other leaders His servants. I think we can conclude from their lives that servants of God are humble and obedient. It is never said from the mouth of God as demeaning, but given as a title of honor.

My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees.

Ezekiel 37:24 NIV

Second, we are repeatedly instructed to put others before ourselves. God’s laws in the Old Testament teach His children to honor Him and a large portion of them deal with the way they treat their fellow brothers and sisters. After Jesus tells us the greatest commandment is to love God with all we are, he says the second is to love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:34-40)

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Philippians 2:3-4 NIV

Last, the greatest servant of God, Jesus, is our ultimate example of servanthood. When we seek to live like Jesus, we can’t help but notice that He rarely put His own needs above that of others except for to get alone with God to pray or when he needed physical rest.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Mark 10:45 NIV
Mark 10:45

Jesus Taught Us to Serve

Jesus had a lot to say on serving others. Let’s explore some of the lessons and actions of Christ that we can imitate.

Serving Others Physical Needs

Jesus fed large groups of people on 2 occasions that are mentioned in scripture. Jesus healed deformities, sickness, and diseases. We do not have the power or unlimited resources like Jesus but we can meet physical needs where we are able.

Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.

Mark 19:31 NIV

Serving Others Emotional Needs

Jesus comforted Martha and Mary after the death of Lazarus. Jesus had compassion on the grieving, lost, and confused. Jesus took care of Himself and His disciples by getting away for rest when necessary. Jesus settled arguments between the disciples and helped them have a kingdom perspective.

We too can comfort, encourage, and be peacemakers to meet others needs emotionally. All the while, pointing them to the one who provides true rest and peace.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28 NIV

Serving Others Spiritual Needs

Jesus made was never vague about His mission on earth. He says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10 NIV) God sent Him to die for the sin of mankind.

He served others spiritually by calling them to repentance, sacrificing His life, and conquering death. We have been given the same mission, spread the good news that others may be reconciled to God through Christ.

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 

2 Corinthians 5:16-19 NIV

Bible Lessons on Serving Others

I wanted to leave you with some good resources to aid in teaching your children, straight from the Bible, how we are told to serve. I divided the lessons into younger and older categories. Be sure to check out some of the practical ways to serve at the end. It’s not enough to merely instruct, we also must be doers of the world.

Serve others

Ways to Serve Others

Let’s talk about some practical ways to serve others. First, we will focus on our home, second on our church family, and last outside of our home.

Ways to Serve Our Family

This is a big thing at our house. Serve your family first. This includes everything from “honoring your father and mother” by obedience to respecting the rights of siblings.

  • Pick up after yourself. Clean up your own messes when possible.
  • Do your part of the chores. (In our house this looks like unloading the dishwasher, folding your clothes and putting them away, keeping your room clean, and helping mom when asked.)
  • Be active in making dinner. (Younger kids help where they can and clean up after. Older kids take their turns cooking.)
  • Be willing to lend an extra hand when others are sick or away.
  • Help younger siblings with chores or homework if mom is busy.
  • Share!
  • Be a good listener.
  • Don’t criticize, call names, or make fun!
  • Compromise often.
  • Seek out peace.
  • Admit wrongs.

Ways to Serve Our Church

I think as adults, we assume that children are just at church to learn and we are the ones who serve. However, teaching them about service from a young age is vital to being sure they are active, serving church members as they get older.

Our family has had the unique position of being church planters. My children have take active roles in everything from greeting and hospitality to set up and tear down. My older kids have served in the nursery and on the AV team. This may not be an option at your church, but, you can bring them along when you serve and find roles they can take on.

  • Pray for your pastor and church leaders.
  • Pray for others in the church in need.
  • Make meals for new moms, the sick or injured, and shut ins.
  • Teach them how to tithe. (For our family, this is 10% of your earnings when you get a job.)
  • Write notes of encouragement (or draw pictures if they are younger) to brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • Hand out invites to your church to friends and neighbors as well as new people you meet.
  • Be a door greeter.
  • Serve as a family at outreach events.

Ways to Serve the World

As Christ followers, we are to shine Jesus’ light in a world of darkness. One of the most loving ways to serve the world is to share the gospel. We can also live life by serving others with kindness.

One practical way that we do this as a family is to ask our server at restaurants how we can pray for them during our blessing over the food. We then leave a generous tip and Gospel tract for them.

  • 10 Ways to Spread the Gospel as a Family
  • Make baked goodies or small gifts on Christian holidays for your neighbors, coworkers, or friends and include a scripture message.
  • Speak words of encouragement and love to everyone you come into contact.
  • Ask others often how you can pray for them.
  • Be generous in giving your time, your talents, and your treasure.
  • Go on a short term mission trip.
  • Help anyone in need.
  • Make blessings bags for the homeless.

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