“Serving humanity is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.” ~Kelly Morris
Service to others is an important part of family life for the Morristribe. However, this wasn’t always the case.
While I grew up understanding the meaning of hard work, service to others was not something spoke of much when I was growing up. I suspect that I’m not alone in that.
It wasn’t until I was close to 30 years old that it dawned on me that there were needy people out there. Our desire to serve, as a family, was inhibited by the debt we carried at the time. That became a primary motivator to get out of debt, once and for all.
Afterall, you can’t give what you don’t have. If you’re buried in debt, like we were, every minute is spent working to earn money to stay afloat. Not a fun way to live.
When we got out of debt back in 1998, we promised ourselves that we would regularly tithe to our church as well as find ways to sacrificially give to those less fortunate, as well as teach our kids to do the same.
It was one of the best decisions we ever made as a married couple.
Getting your family to be more “service minded” takes time, but here are a few tips to get you started:
* Create awareness – You can’t be concerned about that which you know nothing about. Educate yourself and your family about needs around the world, as well as down the street. You might have an elderly neighbor who could use a little help with chores, this totally counts! Service is service, it doesn’t have to be far away! It also doesn’t have to be organized in a church.
* Awaken the compassion in your children – This is not a guilt trip. We don’t have to feel guilty for being Americans who are fairly comfortable. However, we do have a responsibility that comes with financial stability to help others.
“Operation Christmas Child” is one of our favorite ministries, and could well be a starting point for your family if you aren’t currently involved in anything else. Few children can imagine Christmas without gifts! Ask them to imagine what that would be like and allow compassion to develop within your child.
At “Kids Against Hunger” in Cincinnati
* Find your “Holy Discontent” in life: Bill Hybels refers to this in his book by the same name as the “one thing in this world that makes you crazy, that you would change if you could” (my words). That could likely be your “Holy Discontent“.
For us, it was hunger and orphan care. It took some time to figure this out as a couple and as a family. By going to different events and reading about different ministries, we finally found the burden of our hearts.
* Get buy-in: Have a family meeting and discuss social issues, ask your children what they would change if they could. This could be a clue as to what your children and family could get not only interested in but behind for a lifetime.
* Look for practical and flexible ways to serve: With 9 children and being pregnant/nursing for many, many years, we weren’t really able to spend hours and hours away from our home. Little ones needed naps and consistency.
Finding the right way that you can serve is another key to longevity. Match your family’s current needs with any ministry you might be interested in. If it doesn’t fit, keep looking.
* Make the commitment: Whether you choose to serve, give or both, make a commitment as a family to carve out time in your schedule to “show up”. For us, some things are annually, like “Operation Christmas Child“.
Other ministries are quarterly or so, like “Kids Against Hunger“. We go and pack food as a family every 2-3 months.
* Don’t over-commit: This creates burnout and inconsistency. The schedule of service that we keep works well for us, we’ve done it for years because we can maintain it. Count the cost and the time commitment up front!
* Keep your eyes open: I am proud to belong to a relevant, practical church that looks for ways to serve and feed the community on a regular basis. Making opportunities for church members, as well as children’s Sunday school classes, to serve gets lots of people involved.
My children have raked leaves for the elderly and cancer-striken, picked up food for the “Food Pantry” from Aldi and served at community outreach events, all because the church made it easy and doable.
Recently, our church had the opportunity to build a “Habitat for Humanity” house. My bigger boys showed up to hammer in nails, the girls were scheduled to help with drinks, etc for the workers. So many people came out to help that they were done in just over 2 1/2 hours! A local family will live in that home! The workers even got to sign the OSB board on the outside, writing encouraging notes and Scriptures. How cool is that?
Lest you think that my children are always excited about a service opportunity, let me clear that up for you right now. There are times when they just aren’t in the mood to “give”. We remind them that we made a commitment (being careful here to not over-commit!) and that we are governed by our emotions.
God asks us to “feed the hungry” and that’s what we intend to do. They always feel super afterwards!
How does your family serve others? Does this give you ideas to get started?
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