Can your kids see the world from the point of view of another person, or do they only see the world from their perspective? While God’s truths are universal, many other things in life are seen from different perspectives. Often conflicts arise, because people view things differently and refuse to understand how and why the other person does not view the situation in the same way.
You may wonder why teaching your child empathy should be a priority for a Christian parent. Empathy is important because it’s necessary to reflect God’s love to others in ways they can feel it. If your kids only reflect love in the ways that make them feel loved, the other person may not feel loved at all. Empathy will help your kids take that step back and decide what the other person needs to feel loved.
Today is Valentine’s Day. I woke this morning to social media posts filled with people hurting because they aren’t currently in a romantic relationship. Our world is starved for godly love. You can have fun, reflect God’s love to others and teach your kids about the different types of love while doing this great service project. And you don’t even have to do it on Valentine’s Day!
Have your kids create a list of people who might need a reminder they are loved. Talk about the different types of people who may feel unloved for a variety of reasons. Maybe they are single and not dating anyone. Perhaps their spouse has died. Maybe they are someone whose family lives far away. Perhaps it’s someone who is going through a divorce. Maybe it is a child who doesn’t quite “fit in” at school. Perhaps it is a student or military person living far from family and lifelong friends. Maybe it’s someone living in a nursing home or rehab center. You get the idea.
Now help your kids brainstorm ways to help the person feel loved. To let them know your family loves them. To remind them God always loves them. Maybe your kids want to create art or write a note. Perhaps they want to make them cookies or give them candy. Maybe they want to spend a little time with the person or give them a hug. Encourage your kids to be creative. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Use things you have around the house. Shop those day after Valentine’s sales when everything – even candy – is marked down.
Nothing can get people more animated than beginning a discussion about money. Or poverty. Or God’s views on the two. Yet scripture after scripture talks about how God wants His people to care for the poor. Whatever your personal interpretation, I believe kids benefit from understanding the realities of poverty. The scriptures also make it clear God expects us to be good stewards of the blessings He gives us. The money your kids will be given and earn during their lifetimes is one of those blessings. Teaching stewardship should also begin early.
The average full time worker making minimum wage in the U.S. takes home about $300 a week. Let’s be generous and raise that up to $500 a week. Let’s pretend she’s a single mom with two kids and like 2/3 of single moms, receives no financial help from the children’s dad. You can make the rest of the activity simple or difficult depending upon the age of your kids and how much time and money you have to spend.
Here are some of the things you can do to help your kids “become” this fictional mom to better understand God’s views on stewardship and our responsibility to help others.
One of the hardest things about this ministry is seeing all of the wasted potential in the church and in the lives of children and teens. God gives each of us potential to make an impact on the world by serving the church and others and sharing our faith. Yet much of it lies untapped for a variety of reasons. Most are living lives that are a mere shadow of what God had intended for them to be.
Those who reach the potential God gives them have some of the richest, fullest lives I have ever witnessed. They know their purpose. Their lives have meaning and their connection to God is strong. Their faith allows them to cope with the problems of living in a fallen world with grace.
So, what do you need to do to help your kids reach their godly potential? These tips should get you started.
Our culture often shouts from the mountain tops when someone helps someone else. As an educator, I understand. Society wants to encourage others to serve. They believe giving special attention and praise to people when they serve others encourages people who are more reluctant to serve others also.
Unfortunately, even in our churches we have had to point out the “good deeds” of members to reinforce and give examples of how God wants us to live our lives as Christians. Our ministries have to post the good things they do to encourage others to get involved by serving or giving. As a result, our kids may grow up believing they deserve a “pat on the back” every time they serve someone else.