“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Mahatma Gandhi
Service is giving to others; considering other people’s needs as important as your own. Service involves anticipating the needs of others and thinking of ways to serve them–helping people just because we care and for no other reason. Performing a job with the spirit of service can elevate the most mundane of jobs into a rewarding experience.
Teaching children to be of service can begin at a very young age with simple tasks around the house like helping with cleaning, shopping, laundry, yard work, etc. Young children are a lot more eager to help and love having their own special little cleaning tools, which is why getting them in the habit of being helpful from a young age is important. It helps to create a culture of service. My 10-year old daughter still loves to help out, and my 13-year old son, as much as he drags his feet at times, can be very helpful around the house, and I have watched him help people outside the home without being asked.
There are many opportunities within our local communities to be of service, such as at soup kitchens, food pantries, neighborhood clean-up days, and more. I am always on the lookout for ways to serve the community that can involve my children. Children who see parents serve are more likely to serve.
We try to make service a part of our family culture, and my children are accustomed to helping out. I never refer to helping out at home as a chore but rather as service, which puts a different mental spin on it. I’ve always found that the word chore pulls me down, whereas the idea of service lifts me up. At 10 and 13, I can’t say that my children always want to be of service, but more often than not they are very helpful at home and outside, and with good spirit.
This past summer, by an act of God, my children and I, along with a few other wonderful young people and adults were given the opportunity to serve in Haiti for 11 days. What a blessing! What impressed me most was that given the foreign nature of what we experienced, my children managed to interact with children whose language they did not speak, served without complaining, and derived joy from the experience. As I reflect on it, I know it was because being of service wasn’t foreign to them. They were truly happy and had fun! They will never forget the trip or the part they played and both of them want to return to Haiti again and serve.
Service is our way of giving back, giving thanks, and connecting to other human beings. Service builds character, and it has been said that service is the key to happiness. Personally, when I serve, I always gain more than I give and it makes me truly happy!
In what ways do you and your family engage in service together? We would love to hear your comments.