I herded my three girls into our minivan and strapped myself in with a sigh of frustration. “Couldn’t you guys even speak to Miss Lillian? Where are my happy, chatty girls today?”
Our family had adopted a resident from a local nursing home and were establishing a friendship through weekly visits. When I was growing up, family ministry was as natural as breathing, so I wanted to instill the same desire for service in my children.
My darlings, however, spent more time staring at the floor or chewing their nails than engaging our new friend. When I played the piano and coaxed them to lead the residents to sing, their lips moved but no sound came out.
I adjusted the rear view mirror and peered at each child. The oldest two were digging out coloring books and crayons while my preschooler belted out “Old MacDonald” at the top of her lungs.
“Girls! Did you hear me?”
The lyrics about quacks and moos came to a halt. Three sets of wide eyes looked back at me, clearly at a loss for how to answer.
That’s when it hit me.
In my rush to experience family ministry, I chose activities I enjoyed—visiting, chatting, and playing the piano. My girls, however, were bored silly.
1 Peter 4:10 speaks to the importance of using our gifts and abilities in our Christ-walk: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” Learning this at an early age can plant a seed of excitement for the adventure of following Christ.
I turned to my munchkins. “Girls? Do you think on the next visit, Miss Lillian might like to color or do some kind of craft project? And Kate, would you like to sing a silly song for her?”
Excitement filled the van as the girls began laying out plans for our next visit. Words and phrases floated from sweet lips into my grateful heart—words like, “glue,” “make a necklace,” and “need more crayons.”
Ministry changed for us that day—it came alive as one mom and three little girls began learning the value of using their God-given passions and interests in service to their Lord.
What do our children love to do that can be used in service to God and others?
Do their eyes light up around blank paper and craft supplies? What about handmade cards and drawings for a shut-in or nursing home resident?
Maybe our children prefer to get creative in the kitchen. Who doesn’t love a plate of homemade cookies or brownies?
Did we give birth to Ms. or Mr. Organization? Put them in charge of going through outgrown clothing or unused toys to pass on to those in need.
From helping with yard work or swinging a hammer, to singing, writing, or dancing—every gift can be use to honor and glorify the One Who gave the gift.
How can we light the fire of service and ministry with our children? Share your ideas!