9 practical steps you can take to teach your children that life is not all about them

This past Sunday in the middle of almost 3,000 people from Cornerstone serving all over our community, my family made their way over to a hangar with about 500 other people to be a part of packing over 140,000 meals that are shipping to Haiti right now. We tossed Lincoln (our 2 year old) on my back in one of those hiking back deals for kids and Lisa, Kennedy, Mia, and I started cranking out the meals. The moment absolutely melted my heart as a dad, because it provided a brief snapshot of what could be. I mean just think, my kids might actually grow up thinking that it is normal to serve God and put other people first in life. That’s something I can get a little excited about.

If you’re a parent you know that teaching your children that life is not all about them and building a culture of servanthood in your family is no easy task. Kids naturally think that life is all about them, and by the way, most adults that I’ve met do too. This innate idea gets reinforced by the messages they receive in our culture through media, advertising, sports, and education among other things. Not to mention that most of us lead our families in a child centric fashion.

So in an effort to change the trajectory of our families, below are a handful of ideas and practical steps that we can take to integrate an attitude of service into our families. And who knows, we might be surprised by what could happen if we simply live an others oriented life and invite our children into that.

#1 Take a Family Mission Trip

A few years back I had the opportunity to lead a family mission trip to Ecuador. Students literally could not attend unless a parent went with them. It was amazing to see parents weep in awe and humility over their children as they saw their kids doing ministry. The respect level that students had for their parents skyrocketed as they watched their parents doing things they had never seen before like share the Gospel, serve the poor, and not just tell their kids what to do but literally model it out loud in front of their students. Those families were never the same.

#2 Sponsor a Child

This is a step that everyone can take. There are some great organizations you can partner with to do this, here are a couple of links for you Food for the Hungry World Vision and Compassion The key is integrating this new child’s story into the story of you family and involving your kids and keeping it in front of them. One thing that is unique about our church is that they’ve chosen 3 Key Global Partnerships. As a result, all of our short term mission trips go to these sites and all of our child sponsorships are there as well. So when people go on a short term trip with us they get to visit the children they are sponsoring…you want to talk about a powerful moment?!?!

#3 Do a Service Project at Christmas

Like many of you we’ve done Operation Christmas Child and Angel Tree with our kids in the past, two popular service projects oriented around Christmas. This past year a family that we are good friends with discovered that one of their little girls who is Kennedy’s age has cancer. Through the process of treatment she ended up spending Christmas at the hospital. Her parents had the idea of leveraging the moment and providing Christmas for kids who, like their daughter, were spending Christmas at the hospital. It made total sense for us to jump on board as a family. You can check out the link here.

#4 Provide Meals for Others

One Thanksgiving we decided to do dinner for the employees at a local gas station where we always got our gas. It was a simple moment, but me and the kids drove down there and dropped off dinner to them. The last few months Lisa has been coordinating meals for our friends who have the little girl that is battling cancer. Our kids see this lived out every day and get to go to the grocery store to help pick out food. They’re learning that it’s normal to take care of others.

#5 Help people who are Adopting

Some of our best friends on the planet are adopting a little girl from Ethiopia right now. Our girls have been collecting change and placing it in a baby bottle to help them with the cost of the adoption. It’s not much but it’s a good way for them to feel like they are involved and a great reminder to pray for our friends and their new baby daughter. It will be a special moment this fall when they get to meet this little girl.

#6 Watch videos, talk about, and pray for missions

Recently we had a team head out from Cornerstone to India for a 10 day project. While there, the team was posting video on a blog which allowed me to pull up my lap top at the dinner table and as a family we could watch clips of what was happening that day with the India Team, talk about it, and pray for them.

#7 Give at your local church

Seems like a no brainer but you’d be surprised at how many kids (even church kids) never learn this one. Once a month our kids participate in the offering in “big church” with mom and dad. The amount of money that they bring to the table is pretty insignificant, but the habit they are forming and the truth that they are learning, that everything they own belongs to God, will pay dividends later!

#8 Have people in ministry in your home

I can’t tell you how many times growing up we hosted missionaries from the Navigators in our home, or had the pastor over for dinner. Just being around people who were serving God in full time ministry changed my outlook on life.

#9 Serve those who are serving you in ministry

I can honestly say the most impactful and memorable step that my dad ever took to build this concept into my life, was to drag my brother and I with him over to my pastors house and cut his grass each week. I learned first hand in a practical manner how to honor the spiritual authority in my life and care for those who were put in my life to care for me.

Posted in Family, Spiritual Formation, Volunteers

4 Responses to “9 practical steps you can take to teach your children that life is not all about them”

  1. David March 5, 2010 at 9:41 am #

    Hey Paul,

    Good stuff, on “It’s not about us” Glad I did at least one thing ok. Love you, Dad

  2. paul alexander March 5, 2010 at 12:50 pm #

    You did more than one thing O.K. Glad you’re still speaking into my life!

  3. oyun indir June 7, 2010 at 6:50 am #

    good write perfect archive


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