God has designed us to live interdependently in this world. As Paul writes in Philippians 2:3-4, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of your should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."

We begin by training our children that God has asked us, as His children, to be servants. We train them with this knowledge, and then we model it by calling it out every time we do it. If we serve at church or in our neighborhood, we tell them why we are serving. By explaining why we are doing something, I am able to tell my children, "I asked the question, ‘What needs to be done?' and then I realized that I was needed to do this." Or, "I'm here at church and we're setting up chairs because I asked the question, ‘What needs to be done?' and chairs needed to be set up." Or, "I'm cleaning up trash in McDonald's right now because someone left a mess, and I asked the question, ‘What needs to be done?'" We reinforce this heart posture through repetition. We tell and show our children in every situation what it means to be a servant.

So often we're great models of service, but our children don't know what we're doing or why we're doing it. In order to bring clarity to this, we must call attention to it. This is not the same as bragging about your actions. It is instructing your children what true service is. As your children get older you won't need to say it as much. They'll be saying it. Children who have been raised in this environment are evident. They walk into any situation, and they go straight to what needs to be done. It's a posture of their heart and of their spirit.

August 19, 2010

From Spiritual Parenting © 2010 by Michelle Anthony. Published by David C. Cook, www.davidccook.com/. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Michelle Anthony, Ed. D, is a Pastor of Family Ministries of ROCKHARBOR Church in Costa Mesa, California. A former professor of Biola University and Talbot School of Theology, Anthony has written over a dozen resources for Christian Education and Family/Youth Ministries. Michelle and her husband, Michael, have two children and live in Orange County, California.