How to Instill Compassion and Servanthood in Your Children

Ephesians 6:7 says “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord and not men.   However, just telling our children to serve others isn’t enough. We need to model compassion for others to our children.

How can we, as parents, grandparents, teachers, and youth leaders, make the application for our children from the physical act of service to the motive we need to have?

Our motive must be for Jesus and not ourselves. Matthew 6:3 says “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing…” Explaining to our children that we help others, not so we can brag about it, but so that we can honor Jesus is a great step in explaining this passage.

matthew-63

1. Remind our children to put others first in a me-first society. Teaching our children (and modeling it through our own behavior) to put others before ourselves can be a daunting task.

I’ll never forget when my girls were toddlers and I had split a cookie in half (inadvertently, one piece ended up slightly larger than the other) and told them to each choose a piece. I watched from afar to see how things would unfold. My oldest, Sunshine, told my youngest, Doodle, “It’s important that the person who picks first should pick the smallest.” I grinned. Sunshine was getting it!

A moment later, my smile faded as I listened to the rest of Sunshine’s rationale.  “And, Doodle, you can pick first.”

“I’m supposed to pick the smaller piece,” said Doodle.

“Yes you are,” agreed Sunshine, with a glint in her eye.

I watched as Doodle picked the smaller piece, leaving the larger piece for Sunshine, who  knew how to manipulate the system!

Our job is to continue to impress the importance of putting others first on our children, even when they don’t “get it” the first, second or one-hundredth time!

Fast forward to many years later. Sunshine is now one of the most generous and giving people I know. She is the first to give assistance, even without being asked, and the first to share what she has with others.

2.  Hone in on each child’s unique personality and their God-given gifts. Each child has their own unique personality and will each have different ideas of what types of service projects they would like to undertake. In addition, they each have their own spiritual gifts.

Doodle has a heart for world missions and decided at age five that she wants to be a missionary to Haiti. She has never once wavered from that goal.

haiti

Sunshine has a deep love and devotion for younger children and has already been a mentor and childcare worker at our church, a VBS teacher, and a soccer coach.

Discover your child’s gift and passion. Discuss with them and ask if they could help one person in this world, who would it be? And what type of help would they want to provide? Some children have a heart for animals; some have a heart for those who are terminally ill. Still others have a heart that breaks for those in orphanages or foster care.

3. It’s never too early to start our children on the path of serving and blessing others. We started our children serving others when they were babies and would accompany us to the nursing homes. Although they don’t recall the details of those days, my husband and I were still cementing within our children a permanent foundation of following Jesus’ command to love their neighbor.

5. Pray as a family that God would place someone in your family’s path – someone who needs help. Allow each child their turn to pray for this important topic.

6. Pray for those in your neighborhood. Each month, we choose two families in our neighborhood to pray for. We have also gone on walks and runs in our neighborhood and prayed for the people who live in each house.

neighborhood

 Serving others fosters Christian fellowship both within your own family and with your neighbors – it unites families and brings us closer to God and each other.

For more ideas, including “Up for Discussion” questions at the end of each chapter to help families look deeper into the reasons behind each activity, check out 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference.

77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference: Ideas and Activities for Serving Others

What if for one day, we loved as Jesus did?

Penny Zeller, Christian Author
What if for one day, we loved as Jesus did? I mean, truly loved as Jesus did. Not say we will, not pretend to, but really, truly focus on putting another person’s needs ahead of our own?

Can you imagine how we could change the world one person at a time?

And what if it became a habit?

Allow me to share a story with you about my friend Donna. Donna has rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, back problems, and a host of other health ailments. However, this doesn’t stop her from tirelessly serving others and showing each person she encounters the love of Christ in action.

thread-spool-1378256-mCase in point: Donna is often babysitting her grandchildren while her daughter and son-in-law struggle to make ends meet. Donna also teaches sewing classes to homeschool students, volunteers at church, cares for her mother who has dementia, and assists her niece, who has been hospitalized on numerous occasions with a severe neurological disorder.

I’ve never once heard Donna complain.

Add to that, the fact that a mutual friend was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer and Donna came quickly to her aid.

One of the requests of our friend with cancer was that the precious words she’d written would be put into book form before our friend passed away. Donna quickly took care of our friend’s request, even though she was busy with other items, including upcoming medical tests for which she had to prepare.

This didn’t stop Donna.

reading-book-1368361-mDonna went to the local office supply store with our friend’s words. She knew time was of the essence. Our friend wasn’t expected to live much longer and her dream of seeing her words in book print became Donna’s goal.

Donna achieved her goal and was able to present the book to our friend.

Jesus tells His disciples in Matthew 20:28, “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve…” saint-matthew-1336079-m

When I watch Donna, I get a glimpse into what it means to be Christlike and to really truly serve as Jesus did. And not only that, but as an avid prayer warrior, there’s not a day that passes that Donna doesn’t intercede on behalf of others.

I know, because I’ve been blessed to be the recipient of her prayers on a couple of occasions.

So, what if for one day, we loved as Jesus did? What if we set out to bless someone else without the expectation of ever receiving anything in return?

1113096_give_meWhat if everyday, we strove to put others first and didn’t expect to be served, but to instead serve, just as Jesus did?

What a difference we could make!

If you’re looking for ways to enlist your family in making a difference in the lives of others, please check out my book 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference: Ideas and Activities for Serving Others.

5 fun summer activities for kids

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

Need some fun way to keep your kids busy this summer? Here are five fab ideas…

888698_my_new_bicycle1. Spend time outside doing some physical activity.

Summer is our favorite season and it seems to go by in a flash. Encourage your children to get plenty of physical activity by riding their bikes, swimming, playing in the yard or the playground, shooting some hoops, or playing catch…and be sure to join them. One of our favorite activities as a family is to go on bike rides. This is an excellent cardiovascular activity and the benefits of exercise for our children (and parents too!) are endless.

2. Show some creativity. 

In the shade on the patio, we have a large table that my children enjoy doing a variety of creative art projects. One of my children’s favorite things to do is to create things with playdough. Homemade or store-bought clay can be used. (I found some great recipes for homemade clay/playdough here).  Include a variety of cups, containers, and other things that can make “imprints” on the clay or that can be used to build things.

Another fun creative idea is painting rocks. Again, our large table on the patio comes to good use. Draping a disposable tablecloth from the Dollar Store, my kids have free reign to decorate the rocks they have found along the road during a “rock hunt” or in our someday-to-be-finished rock garden. Encourage your children to paint faces,  create animals, or include stripes or polka-dots. Then be sure to display their creative artwork!

3. Learn and have fun at the same time.

Every year on Mother’s Day, my family takes me to the local nursery where I pick out a variety of plants to plant in my flower pots. Not only am I treated to the local nursery, but I am also blessed with three very good Picture 051helpers. Our children each have their own containers that they pick out flowers for and plant their own flowers.

This year, we also added two raised gardens – one for each child. In these gardens, Doodle and Sunshine planted peas, tomatoes, green beans, lettuce, and spinach. Each day, they water their flowers and their gardens, and they also keep them weeded. In addition, Doodle has her own strawberry patch.

Planting and caring for those plants is a wonderful way to help your child not only have fun, but also learn about plants and gain responsibility. Conduct “research” with your children as to how plants grow and the amazing work God does to allow us the beauty of flowers and the benefits of a garden.

4. Be a blessing to others. During our above-mentioned annual trip to the nursery,  we also purchase plants for someone else. Doodle and Sunshine then plant the plants in containers and deliver them. This year, we chose an elderly widow. Sunshine dedicated her summer to, not only watering the flowers she and Doodle 77 Waysplanted for the widow, but also to water and care for the widow’s entire flower garden. Encourage your children to choose an activity that will serve and bless others this summer. For some great ideas on how to serve others, check out my book 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference: Ideas and Activities for Serving Others.

5.  Connect with others.

I often joke with my kids that playdates aren’t just for kids! We moms love to connect with other moms, so why not set up a playdate at a local playground and invite some friends? Summer is a busy time, so some won’t be able to make it, but enjoy the company of those who can and encourage your children to connect with their friends they probably already miss.

I am a firm believer in having some scheduled fun time, but 449238_playground_kids_4also some time for children to use their creative imaginations and do a lot of completely unscheduled times of play – some “downtime” so to speak, so be sure to include that in your children’s summer agenda as well.

What are some activities your children love partaking in during the summer months?

 


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Making a Difference with Christian House Sitters…

I am excited to announce that each month, I will be posting about someone who is making a difference in the lives of others. This month, I am pleased to introduce you to Ray and Marilyn White and their Kenya Children’s Home Ministry…

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Welcome, Ray and Marilyn, it’s great to have you here! Can you please tell us about your ministry?

Christian House Sitters is a worldwide ministry that was set up in order to make a difference to people’s lives.

It helps 3 different groups of people.

Christians who want to take a vacation and need someone to look after their home and or pets can register free of charge as home owners.

Christians who need a break can register can register as House Sitters.

CHS seeks to put the two halves together.

As a result hundreds of Christians all over the world who could not afford a vacation have been enabled to take a break and see other countries.

Wow! What a worthwhile idea! Can you tell us a bit more?

House Sitters pay a nominal fee of £25 per year for their membership but this NOT a business it is a Ministry and 100% of this money goes to help feed and look after children at the Home of Peace Christian Children’s Home in Kenya. The cost of running the site is covered by Ray & Marilyn White who set it up.

So we make a difference to people needing a vacation, to people who need someone to look after their home and pets while they are on vacation and in the process we feed, accommodate and educate 85 children who would otherwise be living on the street or would die of starvation.

What a wondeful way to make a difference! Can you give us a summary?

HOUSE SITTERS. Benefit by being able to have short or long breaks in their own country or abroad.  Their only expense will be the actual cost of travelling to and from the destination. They will know that they are helping another Christian and that when they arrive they will be introduced to the home owners Church and Christian friends.

HOUSE OWNERS. Benefit from being able to leave their home and animals in the care of a Christian having confidence that they will love the animals and care for the property honestly. They will also know that you are helping another Christian to have a vacation.

They have the added security of being able to ask prospective House Sitters for a reference from their Church leaders.

Using this service they are able to make contact with potential sitters and prayerfully select the right person or people.

There is no charge to the owners.

Where can people find more details about Christian House Sitters and the Kenya Children’s Home?

Full Details: Christian House Sitters www.Christian-HouseSitters.com

The Kenya Children’s Home www.Christian-housesitters.com/kenya.htm

Our Blog. http://housesitters.wordpress.com

Do you have some contact information for those who would like to know more?

Our email address manager@Christian-housesitters.com

Thank you, Ray and Marilyn, for being my guests today.  It was an honor having you here today. May the Lord richly bless your ministry!

For more ideas on how your family can join in serving others and helping those in need, please check out my book 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference: Ideas and Activities for Serving Others available everywhere books are sold.

77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference: Ideas and Activities for Serving Others

How to Instill Compassion and Servanthood in Your Children

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

Ephesians 6:7 says “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord and not men.   However, just telling our children to serve others isn’t enough. We need to model compassion for others to our children.

So how can we, as parents, grandparents, teachers, and youth leaders, make the application for our children from the physical act of service to the motive we need to have? For one thing, our motive must be for Jesus and not ourselves. Matthew 6:3 says “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing…” Explaining to our children that we help others, not so we can brag about it, but so that we can honor Jesus is a great step in explaining this passage.

1. Remind our children to put others first in a me-first society. Teaching our children (and modeling it through our own behavior) to put others before ourselves can be a daunting task.

I’ll never forget when my girls were younger and I had split a cookie in half (inadvertently, one piece ended up slightly larger than the other) and told them to each choose a piece. I watched from afar to see how things would unfold. My oldest, Sunshine, told my youngest, Doodle, “It’s important that the person who picks first should pick the smallest.” I grinned. Sunshine was getting it!

A moment later, my smile faded as I listened to the rest of Sunshine’s rationale.  “And, Doodle, you can pick first.”

“I’m supposed to pick the smaller piece,” said Doodle.

“Yes you are,” agreed Sunshine, with a glint in her eye.

I watched as Doodle picked the smaller piece, leaving the larger piece for Sunshine, who  knew how to manipulate the system!

Our job is to continue to impress the importance of putting others first on our children, even when they don’t “get it” the first, second or one-hundredth time! (A side note: years later, Sunshine is now one of the most generous and giving people I know!) 🙂

2.  Hone in on each child’s unique personality and their God-given gifts. Each child has their own unique personality and will each have different ideas of what types of service projects they would like to undertake. In addition, they each have their own spiritual gifts. One of my children has a heart for world missions and has decided she wants to be a missionary. She is the vice-president of her missions club and she already receives a fair amount of mail!

My other child has absolutely no interest in missions. However, she has a deep love and devotion for younger children and at her tender age is already a mentor and childcare worker at our church.

Discover your child’s gift and passion. Discuss with them and ask if they could help one person in this world, who would it be? And what type of help would they want to provide? Some children have a heart for animals; some have a heart for those who are terminally ill. Still others have a heart that breaks for those in orphanages or foster care.

3. Allow your children to see the benefits that can be found by including your neighbors or others in your community in the service acts. I remember a couple of years ago when a friend of mine discovered her young son had cancer. It was amazing to me to see the Body of Christ join together to come alongside of this family in their time of need. Denominational lines were crossed as several different Bible-based churches offered daily prayer support, made and/or purchased meals, remodeled their home, made monetary donations toward the medical bills, and held fundraisers.

All over the country, communities and churches are coming together in amazing ways for the benefit of those who struggle with life-threatening illnesses, natural disasters, and unemployment – and it’s making such a difference!

4. It’s never too early to start our children on the path of serving and blessing others. We started our children serving others when they were babies and would accompany us to the nursing homes. Although they don’t recall the details of those days, my husband and I were still cementing within our children a permanent foundation of following Jesus’ command to love their neighbor.

5. Pray as a family that God would place someone in your family’s path – someone who needs help. Allow each child their turn to pray for this important topic.

6. Allow each child to choose someone to help on a regular basis.

7. And then serve with your family! And serve again and again! Serving fosters Christian fellowship both within your own family and with your neighbors – it unites families and brings us closer to God and each other.

For more ideas, including “Up for Discussion” questions at the end of each chapter to help families look deeper into the reasons behind each activity, check out 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference available at your favorite bookstore.

77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference: Ideas and Activities for Serving Others

Looking to win a free book or two?

Hi Everyone! I wanted to make a couple of announcements about some giveaways going on this week. First, teen blogger, Charity, has graciously hosted me on her blog and if you stop by and leave a comment, you’ll be entered for a chance to win a personalized copy of my most recent book, Kaydie. I am always excited to be a guest on any blog, but especially encouraged to be a guest on a teen blog!

Charity is a neat gal who loves photography and reading. Her blog is full of great reviews of books and movies, and I know she would so love to hear from you. So, stop on by her blog at http://austenitis.blogspot.com/2011/07/interview-and-giveaway-with-penny.html for a chance to win!

Secondly, check out my previous post (below) for a chance to win an autographed copy of my book 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference: Ideas and Activities for Serving Others. All you have to do is leave a comment about how you make a difference in the life of another! It’s that easy! So if you know of someone, a family, church, youth group, or organization who would love ideas for impacting the lives of others, please let them know about this giveaway.

77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference: Ideas and Activities for Serving Others

As always, be sure to check my Events & Giveaways Tabs to stay posted on all upcoming and current events and giveaways. In the fall, I will return to interviewing other authors and doing giveaways on Thursdays once again on this blog.

And last, but not least, please join me tomorrow for my humor post about some of my favorite bumper stickers. Until then, have an awesome rest of your week!