We are in part 2 of our 5-part series on Family-Together Habits. These are behaviors families can practice to strive for greater intimacy with Jesus.
As a reminder, the five key habits are:
Today, let’s focus on gospel-centered SERVICE.
Service, of course, is such a core part of following Christ. The bible is full of verses that invite, command, and remind us that serving is essential to our spiritual duty and our spiritual development. Here are just a few:
Philippians 2:4 …[you should not look] to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Mark 10:44-45 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Galatians 5:13-14 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. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Of course, you knew that already, didn’t you? There is something in us that just knows that serving others is the right thing to do. We don’t always want to, and we don’t always like it, but we know.
But let’s be really honest: Christians are not the only people who believe serving is important, and not all forms of service are done with Christ in mind. This is where gospel-centered becomes an important qualifier in our Habit. The difference between gospel-centered service and service motivated by other things (guilt, duty, forced volunteerism) is that it has a higher purpose and a larger intention.
Gospel-centered service considers the message of the gospel – that all people are valuable, loved by God, and are invited into a beautiful relationship with him. Gospel-centered service is fundamentally different and does fundamentally different things.
First, serving others is an act of humility. As C.S. Lewis famously said: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.” Left to our own tendencies, we are sinfully selfish to the core. Serving others directly fights that sinful part of us.
Second, serving others meets critical needs. Everybody needs help sometimes. The most loving actions I have ever experienced have been moments when I had a need and that need was met by the loving action of another person. This kind of service also has a fringe benefit: it connects us. It is hard to serve others – genuinely – and not love them all the more after doing so. The receiver is blessed, but so is the giver. It’s a beautiful system.
Third, serving others is a direct expression of love for God. Since God can’t receive flowers or chocolates or hugs, He needed to give His people a way to express love to Him. So, in His wise and generous benevolence, He decided serving others in His name was the way to do it. Every act of gospel-centered service is a two-for-one deal: a person receives love, and so does God! How beautiful and genius and crazy is that! That God, man…he’s one smart dude.
Serving, it is obvious, is good, necessary, and helpful. But to be clear, our Habit is about serving together as a family. This is important for so many reasons. First, all the above-mentioned truths about service are not obvious to kids. They have to be taught – whether they are preschoolers or young adults. This is the core of discipleship. We need to impress truths like these, and the “why?” behind them to our kids and the next generation in general. If we don’t, they likely will not stumble upon them accidentally since, again, selfishness is our default position.
But there is additional benefit to serving together: shared experiences are extremely powerful when everyone is working to give themselves away. This is why mission/service trips create stronger bonds than just vacationing together. This is why the military builds such great community. Service + shared experience = bond. I have seen this happen time and again with families around me. Their serving together was an important and powerful bonding element for them, and I think it can be for you, too.
So now what? What can you do to serve? Well, the age and stage of your kids is, of course, a big factor, but the values transcend age. But beyond that, here are some suggestions:
1) We can help even our littlest kids understand the power of serving and the why behind it. They can still help pick up their toys to serve Mommy so she doesn’t have to pick up all by herself.
2) Students going into grade 5 and up can participate in our August 15th event serving at Feed My Starving Children (And Whirlyball!) in Eagan, and families are invited. (Younger siblings are welcome to come with their families!) If you are attending, please choose the red “register now” button at the top of this page: here. Contact John Chaco if you have questions. ([email protected])
3) Kids in grade 7 and up can serve in Children’s Ministry at Calvary. And guess what? Parents can serve with them! I have seen families do this and it can be AWESOME to do together. Would you consider signing up to lead and serve in this way with your family? If so, contact Amy Bowers at [email protected].
4) Family-together missions trips can be life-changing. Because we believe that, we are sending 9 of our own to Montreal August 3-12. Please pray for the team (Tom, Kathy, Nathan, and Matthew Bergquist, David Henry, Roy and Glenna Makosky, Adam and Jayne Morgan, and meeting up with Steve and Jane Wheeler) as they serve families, as families. And, consider joining the team with your whole family when we (God willing) travel to Montreal next time! (Follow them on our blog: https://blog.calvaryefc.org/pray-for-montreal-2018/)
5) Jesus wasn’t messing around when he commanded us to love our neighbors. Maybe this starts with you meeting your neighbors, or asking how you can pray for them, or reaching out when you know something doesn’t seem right. (As a side note, this is something I was able to do with one of my neighbors and it was a fruitful, spiritual conversation!) Your whole family can be a light to your neighborhood, together. What would one more degree of intentionality look like where you live?
Until the next Feast,