“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind. And you must love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12: 30-21).
Most of us innately know to teach our children basic manners and respect: to share and take turns, to say “please” and “thank you,” and to not take the last cookie off of the plate. As parents and Christians we are called to understand these values within the larger context of the mission of the church. How do we teach our children compassion? How can we lead them to leave the world better than they found it? How do we raise mission-minded children?
The family is the biggest influence on a child’s experience of faith – children who see their parents loving God and loving others grow up with a deep understanding of the Great Commandment. Children who serve alongside their family understand that giving out of our own abundance is not an extracurricular activity, but rather a duty AND a privilege, a response to the grace lavished upon us.
“Family Acts of Service” is one of the four keys to growing the faith of our children. This month we encourage you to “practice” serving your neighbors together. Discuss as a family creative ways to love your neighbors during the season of Lent: First of all, brainstorm ways to love the neighbors you know. Can you welcome them to your home for a meal, or surprise them with a raked yard or cookies at the door? Next, talk about ways to serve the neighbors you DON’T know. Make hygiene kits for the Calvary “Little Free Pantry” or deliver goodies to the fire station.Bring non-perishables to Red Wagon Sunday, letting our children help to pick them out.
For more ideas on growing compassionate kids pick up a copy of “Raising Children to Love their Neighbors” in our Parent Resource Center.