I am a firm believer in starting good habits as early as possible. This should especially apply to starting the habits of living a godly life. One of the easiest, most enjoyable godly habits to start with your child is teaching them to serve others.
Our daughter was just over a year old when she actively participated in her first service project. Our church had collected cans of food to take to another congregation in town who served the poor in our city from their building. Our daughter would take cans of food off the shelves and put them in the bags or boxes we were taking downtown. At other times she would reverse the project and take cans people had donated and place them on the lower shelves. She was also able to hand them to me to place on higher shelves.
It seems like every where I turn these days, I hear about bullying. Back in the Leave It To Beaver days, a bully appears to have been the largest child in the class. Evidently, his mother never sent enough lunch, as his bullying efforts were always about getting more food. There appears to have been an average of one bully per class. You would think someone would have thought to just ask his mom to send more food, but evidently the idea never crossed their minds.
Fast forward to today and it seems like the halls of our schools are full of bullies. Now, instead of using their tactics as a way to score more food, it appears many of these children are terrorizing their peers just for the “sport” of it or to get their way. Honestly. it is not just children who are experiencing this rude verbal and physical behavior from their peers. I have noticed a steady rise in the same behavior amongst adults.
We recently updated some of the outlets in our house. Several of them now have a re-set button. If we try to plug something in wrong or something plugged in touches water, the outlet throws the connection to the circuit breaker. When everything is corrected, we merely push the re-set button on the outlet and we can start over again.
Sometimes I wish parenting had a re-set button. You think what you are doing raising your child is working when suddenly you recognize a behavior pattern that makes you realize you made a mistake. Sometimes it is minor, like accidentally correcting an innocent child. Other times it can be a life changing mistake, like not holding your child accountable for his behavior.
Last summer I wrote a series of lessons for the children’s Bible Class time at our church. The children spent the summer re-living some of the events in the life of Jesus. One of the favorite weeks was what became known as “donkey day”. As the “owner” of the donkey recounted the story of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the children got to re-inact the event. Of course everyone, including some teens who stopped by after class, wanted a donkey ride.
Last summer I had the children at our church make testimony quilts to give to the children who use the homeless shelters in our town. Homeless shelters often require the people who stay there to vacate the premises during the day. Sometimes families with children may stay at a shelter, but then feel uncomfortable and return to living in cars or other less than warm places.
The goal was to create not only something easily portable a child could use to keep warm, but to have it remind the child that God loves them even during rough times. We have done this several times over the years. The children who make the quilts have a blast. It allows us to use the talents of the women in our congregation who sew and the agencies who receive the finished products are always thrilled.