Over the past few years, one of the most requested topics on my speaking circuit has been a lesson in which I list a hundred ideas for training our kids to be servants. Service oriented kids grow up to be productive adult servants in the kingdom and it’s those people to whom the Lord will say, “Come ye blessed of my Father,” according to Matthew 25. So it matters if I’m making a real effort, as a mom, to put the heart of a servant in my child. For this reason, I’ve decided to devote a post, every now and then, to a service suggestion—a simple idea for moms to make their homes busy service centers for young hearts and hands. I’d love to hear from those of you who try them. So here goes:
Keep Children for Sick Moms
This is an opportunity that you’ll hate to see coming your way, but I can guarantee that, during the course of raising your children, there will be times when other moms in the congregation need your help with child care. A mother with two older children will be delivering her third. A sister who has a chronic illness will find herself in a difficult situation when her husband is deployed. A pregnant mom will be put on bed rest for the balance of her pregnancy. An accident will render a mom unable to walk without crutches. A home will temporarily become an unfit environment for children because of spiritual sickness in one or both parents. While these are tough spots that we would never wish on anyone, when they do occur, we can extract good from them for both our own families and those to whom we minister. I believe all of you are women who are already reaching to rescue sisters with childcare help, food ministries, and prayers. You want to help your congregation’s children through scary times when moms are sick. The point of this post is not to urge you to do this. The point is to urge you to take full advantage, in the hearts of your own kids, of what you are already doing.
It’s important to make the needs of children in your congregation or neighborhood come alive for your own kids in your family Bible times during weeks when you are ministering to children. Take your children to Matthew 19, Mark 10 or Luke 18 and tell them about a Savior who forbad his disciples from turning away the children who wanted to meet him. Emphasize that Jesus said those who are in the kingdom are like little children in some ways. Elicit their ideas about how people who come to the kingdom have to be like children. Have another Bible time in which you talk about Esther and how that Mordecai made sure that she, as a little girl, was taken care of when her life was in crisis (Esther 2). This gave Mordecai a big opportunity to put some things into Ester’s little heart that would one day be very important to her faith and to the nation of Israel. Talk about how that this opportunity you have to help the “Jones” children could be a big chance to put things into their hearts that will build their faith for hard things they may have to do for God someday.
Spend an hour while you have the extra children making cards for the mother who is sick or hospitalized. Getting the cards from her own children will mean a lot to this mom. Once when I had extra children while Mom was in the hospital, I had a card-making contest. Of course, every child got a little prize: one was most colorful, one was most creative, one was most affectionate, etc….The kids were so proud of their efforts when they saw all of their cards displayed across the kitchen counter, but the expression on Mom’s face when she finally came to get the kids was priceless.
Make sure that you make the routine as normal as possible for extra children, particularly if you have them for an extended period. Be sure you have family Bible time regularly while you have the extra kids. I remember once I kept children while Mom was confronting Dad about suspected adultery. In times like this, you want them to feel very secure, extremely wanted and you especially want to make sure that they leave knowing that your house is a “safe” place where they can come if they ever need to seek counsel or talk about problems they may encounter later.
In doing these things, you will expend a lot of energy. You will be tired at the end of the day, but you will form relationships with children that may last a lifetime and may influence eternal destinies. You will forge strong ties to parents who will be extremely thankful for your generosity. Perhaps most rewarding, you will be putting a heart for second-mile service in your own kids. They will become adults who have “Suffer the children” etched in their hearts as a motto for living. They will “suffer the children to come” and, in the process, they will know more about the character of the kingdom and it’s King.