When people talk about serving others, you will often hear comments about how “good” it made them feel. While at times that feeling may be a part of serving, I don’t find anything in the Bible that talks about that as our goal or the measure of whether our service was actually meaningful. In fact, many times true, godly service is hot, smelly, dirty and can even feel unfulfilling.
For your kids to be true, godly servants, they need to have a more biblical idea of what it means to serve. What better way than walking in the sandals of Rebekah for a bit. You remember the story. It was time for Isaac to get married. Abraham wasn’t particularly thrilled with the choice of potential brides where they were, so he sent a servant to find a suitable bride back in their extended family.
The servant arrives and realizes, this is a bit of a daunting task. How can he possibly know for sure who will make a good bride for Isaac? The servant wisely decided to ask God for his help. He prayed that God would give him a sign who the correct woman was – the woman who offered to not only give him water to drink, but also offered to water his camels.
What the servant and God knew was that watering ten camels was not an easy task. Each camel could drink up to 25 gallons of water. Times ten and Rebekah was offering to draw and pour probably somewhere between 140 and 250 gallons of water. This was a woman who was willing to serve others in ways that were difficult and frankly pretty boring. She had no way of knowing if this stranger would even thank her, much less the reality of what would later happen. All she could reasonably expect was to have spent a lot of time and energy serving a man and his ten camels. Yet that is exactly what she did.
You can have some fun helping your kids understand the hard work God sometimes asks us to do to serve others. Find some gallon water jugs. If it’s summer and you have a kiddie pool to fill, use open jugs and let your kids refill and carry them to water your “camels”. If you are in a drought situation, keep gallon water jugs sealed and have them carry them back and forth the appropriate number of times. If you have two or more kids, you can let them each water a couple of “camels” at the same time.
Don’t overtax your children – keep it safe. Most kids should be able to haul a gallon jug the equivalent of 14-25 times a short distance. After they have “watered” one camel, stop and chat for a bit. How would Rachel have felt after watering ten camels by herself? How would she have felt if the servant had only said thanks and continued on his journey or said nothing at all? Why would she agree to serve a stranger in this way with no promise of anything in return? Why did the servant and God think this was a good test of her character?
If your family serves others regularly, talk about times when it felt good to serve and other times when things did not go smoothly or the recipients did not seem grateful. Does how we feel after we serve or how the people react make a difference? Why does God want us to serve others? What do we need to think about when it is obvious serving someone will be tough and unrewarding?
You may even want to remind them of the story of Jesus washing the feet of the Apostles. Not only was that a dirty, gross job usually done by servants, but Jesus knew he was washing the feet of the man who would soon betray him (Judas). Why did Jesus wash the feet of Judas?
Even though this activity has an element of fun to it, the hard work involved will make the discussions you have later very real to your children. Remind them serving is not only about other people, but also about helping them to grow and mature spiritually. Who knows, “Remember the camels!” might become a favorite family phrase when serving under tough circumstances!