It’s not too late to join our 12 month challenge to teach your children to live more like Jesus. This month we have been adding the idea of teaching our children to help the hurting. Not just serve them by meeting their needs, but sharing the Gospel message with them as we show them God’s love.
If your family has been searching for ways to help the hurting people of the world, you may just be overwhelmed. It seems like every time I open the paper, read my mail or turn on my computer I am bombarded by stories of people who are hurting. Some in ways I can’t even imagine. All of these people could use our help, but we only have a limited amount of time, energy and resources to give.
The hardest questions in life are: who do I help and how do I share with them God’s eternal message? We have discussed how the choice can become so overwhelming we become apathetic to the pain of others in an attempt to avoid the choices. God doesn’t call us to that as an option. Throughout the Bible God is consistent in His call for us to help those who need help and to share God’s message with them.
So how can we answer the questions in the most godly way? There probably is no one right answer. In the letters of the Apostle Paul, you can see him struggle with some of the same issues. Would he get to Spain? Which churches should he go back to visit and which ones should he write? Whom should he take with him on his journeys and whom should he send on their own journey?
We can take some cues from Paul and throw in some other tips to help us start making our decisions:
- It is obvious Paul spent a lot of time in prayer about his choices and listened to the guidance of the Holy Spirit through circumstances and people. We (and our children) should be in constant prayer asking God to show us who needs our help and the sharing of our faith. Often God will use circumstances and other people to show us clearly someone who needs our help or when it is time to move on and help someone else.
- Do your research. Just because an organization is a registered charity or church does not mean they spend their money wisely or in godly ways. Check a charity’s Guidestar profile to see how much of their money goes to the people they are helping and how much is spent for overhead and fundraising. Some of the most well known charities and churches are actually some of the very worst at making sure the money you donate actually gets to the people who need it. (Sometimes more goes in the personal pocket of the people running the charity in the form of high salaries.)
- Think about your life. Who do you know that needs help in your church family? Your personal family? Friends or neighbors? These are the people you are most likely to influence for God. To have the most impact, we need to first consider who we can serve that we can also teach about God’s love.
- Can we do every day things and help others at the same time? Consider saving pop-tops for the Ronald McDonald House, giving gifts from charity: water or the hundreds of other every day little ways you can help others without a huge time or financial commitment on your part. You may not be able to teach all of these people about God, but then again, you may just be surprised how many of them you can.
- What are your talents and passions? What has God gifted you to do? Find ministries, charities or your own independent projects that allow you and your children to use the gifts God gave you. You will be working/serving/ministering in your “sweet spot”. Dorcas/Tabitha evidently was a gifted seamstress. She used her gift so often for God that her death created a tremendous stir amongst the people she had served. Our goal for ourselves and our children should be that we use the gifts God gave us to help others so often, our service is how people identify us.
Hopefully these tips will help you focus your efforts to help the hurting. What other criteria do you use when considering opportunities to serve others? Do you say yes to everyone who asks or do you seek out specific opportunities? I would love to hear how you decide how and whom to help in a comment below.