It seems like every week there is another news story about a child who is kidnapped or murdered. Parents are much more cautious with their children than our parents were with us. Most of us have probably trained our children from a young age to be wary of strangers and to memorize the phrase “stranger danger”.
As Christians, though, God has made it very clear he wants us to entertain strangers and help those who are possibly out of our comfort zone. The ministry of Jesus made it very clear that God does not want us to reject people who are different or maybe even a little scary. Jesus definitely set an example by reaching out to all kinds of people who would have been considered undesirable by the religious elite. He even had a tax collector and a Zealot as two of his apostles.
Parents often have a difficult time finding service opportunities for their family. Many organizations do not allow children and even teens to volunteer because of liability issues. Even churches sometimes make it difficult for a family to do a service project together.
The good news is that it is very easy to plan your own service project. If you follow the steps below, your project should be successful. Someone in need will be served, your family will learn the value of serving others and God will be glorified. As an added bonus, your children will learn a lot of practical life skills that will help them in other areas.
Grandpa is ninety years old now. His dementia has reached the point where he acts more like a two year old than the grandpa I know and love. Even though he has changed, I cherish the lessons I received from him. Some were lessons he taught me and others were those I learned from observing him. I realized the choices he made during his life changed the way my life might have been.
You see my grandfather was abandoned at eighteen months old. From what we can piece together, his mother left to go to work for some period of time and left my grandpa and his twin sister with their dad. We think their dad may have been called to work, but whatever the circumstances, the children were left alone in the apartment. Evidently several days went by and they were crying so loudly the neighbors called the authorities. Grandpa and his sister lived briefly with their grandparents and then were left at a local orphanage.
I blame the Puritans. Early Christians like the Apostles were known for their joy. Think about it. Paul and Silas singing praise hymns in jail. Stephen serene in the face of death. If they were that joyous in bad experiences, I have to imagine they were bursting at the seams with joy under normal circumstances.
Then came the Puritans. Technically, it probably started earlier, but they made it famous. Laughing was not for Christians and forget about having fun and wearing bright colors. Having taken an early American literature course in college, I can tell you their sermons were not exactly joyous either.
I hope I don’t get kicked out of the teaching profession for spilling all of our secrets. I’ll be honest, quite a few professional educators I know get a kick out of disciplining misbehaving children in public without their parent’s knowledge. How is that possible? We have mastered the “look”, a powerful tool that conveys the messages “Have you lost your mind?” and “I know you aren’t doing what I think you are doing.” all rolled into one. It is amazing how many out of control children immediately cave in and behave when given the “look” (even by a complete stranger).
Good teacher training programs aren’t just about how to convey knowledge to your students. They also teach you classroom management techniques. A friend and I were talking recently. We had been education majors together in college years ago. We decided that majoring in education had made us better parents. We laughed about how the classroom management techniques we had learned worked just as well at home with our own children.