Last week, while making breakfast for my three young ones and their two friends who had slept over, I was reminded how beautiful it is to watch the cultivation of a servant’s heart in our children.
After cracking the last egg, it was clear that the last one to eat (8-year-old Reese, one of my twins) wouldn’t get any eggs. Our hens have been slacking as they do in winter months, and it was time for a store run.
I explained to him that we were out of eggs, and offered alternatives. In his usual, easy-going manner, he shrugged and happily chose a banana. I flipped his pancake one last time and served it to him. Riley, his twin sister, who had quietly saved half of her eggs slid her plate over to him. Reese then split his banana in two and gave her half. Not a word was said, but I saw it unfold and made a mental note to praise them both later for their seemingly innate actions.
I believe compassion and kindness are innate qualities. They definitely are action words that need to be demonstrated and fed on the regular. Having three little eyes constantly watching me was all I needed to put words to action and give more of myself to others in a consistent manner. For me, because it’s our purpose on this earth, but for them too. I try not to put too many demands on my children but I want them to see me walk what I talk to the best of my ability and employ it in their own lives as they find their way. The good stuff anyway. Lol.
Following is a list of important lessons I believe are important to remember when leading others, especially our kids, to a life of kindness and chosen servanthood.
- Don’t neglect yourself. There is a well-known quote by Mother Theresa that basically states that the best thing you can do for the world is to go home and love your family. So true. One of my favorite analogies to equate with the necessity of self-care is picturing yourself on an airplane that is going down. You reach for an oxygen mask. Do you put it on yourself or your neighbor first? How are you going to productively help others without oxygen?
- Sometimes the little stuff is the big stuff. Not every act of kindness has to be grandiose. Each day provides so many opportunities to make someone’s life easier or better in lots of ways. It’s important to grab ahold of as much kindness as you can. Cliche as it is, sometimes all a person needs is a smile or a complimentary cup of coffee to keep on keeping on.
- Always remain humble but promote your causes. Social media is all the rage these days. Use it for the greater good and post about goodness as much as you want. Reflect privately or with loved ones about how you felt as you gave, how you think the recipient felt, etc. Know when acts need to remain unspoken/anonymous and when speaking of it will begin a chain reaction!
- Respect your subjects. In another one of my blog posts, I shared details of an incident involving one of my 8 year olds giving to one of our homeless friends on the street. Without thinking, the photographer in me snapped a photo of her exchange. When I realized later what I had done, I made sure to crop him out of the photo to disguise his face. Other people’s journeys are not ours to show and tell, especially identifying them without permission.
- Volunteer, Volunteer, Volunteer. But I don’t have anything to give is something that I overhear often from people. Your gift does not always have to be tangible, expensive or material. The biggest gifts are often none of those things! Be smart with what and how you give.
There are many more lessons that I could probably add to this list that are just as important to keep in mind. But these are some of the top highlights for us as we do our very best to live a life of servitude. Now, none of this qualifies us for sainthood. Ha! There are days that my three fight like the dickens and don’t want to share anything with anyone, much less with each other. And that is allowed too – we can’t expect our children to strive for the impossible perfection that we don’t and can’t meet ourselves.
But that’s a blog post for another day! (Stay tuned.)
Thanks for reading!