Day 4: Creating an Environment of Serving

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” Romans 12:10-11

“I will often be able to serve another simply as an act of love and righteousness… But I may also serve another to train myself away from arrogance, possessiveness, envy, resentment, or covetousness. In that case, my service is undertaken as a discipline for the spiritual life.” Dallas Willard

 

  • Call your prayer partner for your 10-minute prayer call! Never underestimate the power of praying with a friend.
  • Open your Bible and read Romans 12:1-2. Ponder this: the same word in the original language for service is also the same word for worship—latria.
    What an incredible thought! Paul, the original author, could not conceive of separating service and worship. They are one in the same in God’s eyes. In
    light of this, how will you worship Him today?

Creating an Environment of Serving

We all had chores growing up, right? I mean, every good home has some form of them. Let’s face it, chores were a way to get things done and to help our parents out, but I wonder why have we for so many decades called this beautiful act of service a “chore?”

Think about the word “chore.” It just sounds like a word that makes you want to groan. And we did, didn’t we? When my parents told me I could play after I finished doing the laundry or the dishes, I simply wailed. I grumbled. I bargained. Anything but a chore! So when I became a mom, I had visions of children who would scurry about in joy, much like Cinderella’s mice, knowing that the work just needed to be done. I envisioned them wanting to help out of the abundant gratitude in their hearts for all that we had provided for them.

Well, it didn’t take long for that dream to be squelched. Innate in each of us is a bent toward selfishness. Instinctively, we know how to serve ourselves and eliminate all else from distracting us in this pursuit. We are not born servants. Most of us (if not all of us) just naturally come into this world saying, “Serve me.” But you can cultivate an outward focus in your home by training this posture of the heart, from an early age, through the environment of service.

Creating an environment where your children ask, “What needs to be done?” is critical for their faith development. To have them walk into any room, situation, or relationship and ask this will change the way they see their world. It’s a simple concept, but not one that comes naturally. This attitude must be cultivated in your children, and that will not happen unless you set out on an intentional course, making it a priority.

In my home, we chose not to have “chores.” Well, actually we still implemented the concept, but instead of referring to them as chores, we decided to call them “acts of service.” This might sound silly to you to think that we merely changed the name, but I wanted them to understand that what they were really doing was serving our family.

So we assigned designated areas of service to our children. My daughter had cleaning bathrooms, doing laundry, and washing dishes every other day, while my son had taking out the trash, mowing the grass, cleaning the spa, and washing dishes every other day. They needed to help with the groceries, the kitchen, the dog, the litter box, and their rooms, as needed. But I didn’t want them to think of those things as a list to complete; rather, I wanted them to see our family as interdependent.

I remember the morning when I knew the idea was taking root. Around 6:30 a.m., I heard my son shouting in the hallway before school, “Mom! Chantel has not done her act of service, and now I don’t have underwear for school.” Although I then heard the argument that ensued as my daughter suggested that he was capable enough to wash his own underwear, I snuggled down in my bed with the satisfaction of knowing that not only had my son referred to the laundry as an “act of service,” but also that both children saw how dependent they were upon each other for their needs to be met.

The apostle Paul said, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:10-11). Ultimately, when we serve each other, we are serving the Lord. Paul also 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 you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Additionally, one of the most important things that we can do as mothers is to recognize our own selfish bent. When we do, we will better understand why it’s hard to give this type of heart to our children. It’s difficult, and in fact, even impossible, to give away something we don’t already have.

Blessings and Love,

Dr. Michelle Anthony

Questions to Ponder

  • Where do you see selfishness in your life? In your family members’ lives? How may you have represented service to one another in ways that are not acts of worship but rather chores to be dreaded? How can you change this perception?
  • How can you see your service to your family as an act of worship to God?

Faith-Filled Ideas

Use dinnertime to ask, “How did you serve your family today?” On the occasion that your family has served one another, this will be a time of gratitude. On the occasion that your family has been more self-serving, this will be an opportunity to remind one another of the ways that you need each other.

Michelle Anthony

Michelle Anthony

Dr. Michelle Anthony is the Executive Pastor of Families at New Life Church and Dean of Youthmin Academy. She is the author of Spiritual Parenting,The Big God Story, Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family, A Theology of Familiy Ministry and her newest book, 7 Family Ministry Essentials. Michelle has over 30 years of church ministry and leadership experience in children’s and family ministries and graduate degrees in Christian Education, Bible and Theology from Talbot School of Theology and and her doctorate of Education from Southern Seminary. In her free time, Michelle enjoys being with her family, reading a good book, and the beach while drinking a strong cup of coffee.
Michelle Anthony

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