The holidays!! Like it or not, they are almost here. We are moving into a time of Thanksgiving, where we will all be preparing for the annual conversation around the Thanksgiving dining table about what we are each thankful for. I would like to propose to you that a big part of developing a thankful spirit in our children comes from making serving others a priority for them.
A heart for service can be seen in a 4 year old’s life and a 44 year old’s life. It can be seen in a busy person’s life or a retired person’s life. In other words, we are all called to have hearts of service.
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” (Galatians 5:13)
This is not in our nature, nor is it encouraged by our society. Our nature is to seek to satisfy our own desires and to put them before the needs of others. Society tells us that we are to “watch out for #1” and to “love yourself.” It is not an automatic thing for us to put our desires aside and sacrificially do something for someone else.
Our children need to be taught the character trait of serving. You have to be intentional about this. Be looking for opportunities to serve others either as individuals or as a family. Here is one of those very important times as a parent to lead by example. If you are regularly coming a few minutes early to events and offering to help set up or staying late to help clean up, your children will grow up to think that is normal. If you are frequently making a double serving of dinner and taking the extra to a shut-in neighbor, it will be normal for your children to make up a batch of cookies to take over to them also.
By sacrificially doing things for others and spending time with other people who are less fortunate than themselves, children are more likely to develop a thankful spirit or have an “Attitude of Gratitude.” And when we obey our Heavenly Father’s command to “serve one another humbly in love,” we will be blessed. Let’s not undermine our children’s potential of receiving God’s blessings by not teaching them about service.
At Coastal, we feel pretty passionate about this and that is why a few years ago we adopted our Community Service Hours program. Our high school students are required to complete a minimum of 25 hours/year of community service and students of all ages are encouraged to participate in the Presidential Service Awards program and receive recognition at Graduation. It is a tool for you to use to help you in teaching your children the principle of Galatians 5:13.
This year, may your Thanksgiving celebration be all the richer because everyone around your table has a heart of service as well as of gratitude.
Giving thanks for you,
This is a collection of the reflections our principal, Susan Truman submits to our monthly newsletters. She is married to her college sweetheart and is a mother of three. She graduated two of her children from Coastal with her third child attending a special needs school.