Children can be pretty egocentric. (Grown ups too, but that’s another story.)
In view of this, one of the things we emphasize repeatedly in our family is the importance of serving one another.
By the way, when one does not have paid domestic help there are endless opportunities for each family member to serve one another. This isn’t saying I don’t sometimes wish the bathrooms would just wash themselves of course!
Mostly, the older children have been great at helping the youngest with things. Putting on his shoes, getting him a bib or some home made yogurt drizzled with honey.
The real job lies in encouraging them to serve when they don’t feel like it, or when it is inconvenient to them. I have learned that instilling selflessness in a child is a process that requires patience, consistency and discernment – knowing when to encourage service and when to leave it alone because he or she is tired, etc.
Last month it was Sweet Man’s birthday and it was a wonderful occasion not only to celebrate but to put service into practice.
The kids wanted to get their father something and I suggested rather than buying him a gift, they could serve him instead. Together, we came up with some ideas on what he might like and then got down to making a stack of coupons.
Sweet Man’s favourite by far was the back massage. It involved him lying face down on our bed with all 3 kids standing on his back and walking all over him. Sweet Man said it beat any professional massage. It was so good he wanted to convert his tea and clean room coupons into back massages. The whole thing had been such a gleeful affair the kids were more than happy to oblige.
A few days after Sweet Man finished redeeming his back massage coupons, I was pleasantly surprised when Puppy and Lamb made a birthday box for me even though it wasn’t my birthday. Nestled among an assortment of coloured paper was a coupon. Puppy said I deserved it for all the hard work I did serving them as their Mama.
I haven’t redeemed the coupon yet, but boy I am sure looking forward to it.
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)