As a family, we've recently been talking about ways we can help people around us who are in need. This conversation was sparked because our two oldest kids have been learning about serving others in Kid-O-Deo the past few weeks. They've been challenged to see others in need and choose to do something about it. During this time, we've been asking them to tell us when they see someone in need, and then we ask them what they would like to do about it.
Living in the suburbs, seeing the needs of others can be difficult—I admit that I don’t always do the best job of noticing others who need help. Yet, almost every afternoon there is a man who stands at an off-ramp near our house, holding a sign. I don’t know his story, and admittedly, I try to avoid that off ramp when I can.
Seeing the needs of others is one thing. Helping them is another. So, a few weeks ago, my wife decided to take action. She came home one afternoon, said the man was standing on the corner, and decided to make him a sandwich and bring him some fruit. She was off to pick up a young girl she is mentoring, and decided to take our daughter along. They packed the lunch with my sons, talking about what good foods to give this man and what his response might be. My wife and daughter left and dropped the meal off with the man holding the sign.
I’d like to tell you her generosity sparked a conversation that ended with her inviting the man to church, where he encountered God and surrendered his life to Jesus—but in all actuality, nothing happened. He expressed his thanks, my wife said, “God bless,” and they parted ways. My wife may never know the impact the meal had on the man, but at the very least, we can be sure she set an example for our kids to follow. That day, we were able to show our kids what it means to open our eyes to the needs of others and how simple it can be to serve.
I have come to realize that when I see a person asking for something on the street, my mind thinks big picture—like how can I get this man a house, a job, or training. Something my wife and kids are teaching me is that serving others in need can also look like making a simple meal of a sandwich and piece of fruit. I don’t need to singlehandedly solve the homeless problem in the Twin Cities today, but I can show my kids the gift of reaching out in kindness and offering what I can. I don’t need to end world hunger, but I can bring my kids to pack food for those around the world.
Serving can feel so daunting, and teaching your kids what that means and looks like can be even more intimidating. But I think we overcomplicate things. So, here’s how we're trying to simply serve—and what you can do, too:
- Ask your kids: Is there anyone you have seen today who may have a need we can meet?
- Decide to do something about it today—and actually follow through.
The example you set, and continue to live out, will teach your kids that serving others matters. And when we put others above ourselves, we are actually honoring God. Check out what Matthew tells us in chapter 25, verse 40: “The King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me.'"
I’d love to hear how you and your family have served your community. Reach out to me on Facebook or Instagram, or shoot me a quick email! I'd love to hear about it.