Fostering a Heart of Service in Our Children

We all want to raise our children to learn to serve. And especially to have the heart of a servant leader.

I was recently reading an article that talking about how yielding is not serving. The author warns of serving becoming yielding. It’s a good read and great advice to heed – for ourselves and for our children.

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Maybe it is the fact that I have a heart for bringing leadership home that I came across this from a different perspective. I started thinking about the difference between yielding and serving.

It begins when our children are little. We need them to be immediately obedient without question. So we teach them to yield to us. It keeps them safe. It helps them learn right from wrong. It helps them have good strong foundations for the rest of their life.

But as they grow older, we should want for our children to move from yielding to serving. We need for that heart change to take place from obeying because they have to, to obeying because they want to.

Why? Because (as the article above states) yielding is not serving. Our children cannot be servant leaders if their heart doesn’t make the change from yielding to serving.

Once that change happens, they start looking for ways to serve. They see the dishes need to be done, and they do it. They see mom has a headache, and they offer to take the younger kids downstairs for a movie to keep the house quiet. The focus has switched from self to others.

So how do we foster this heart change in our children?

  • Be the example. Children learn more by what we do than by what we say. Always asking your children to serve when they never see you serving does not do much good.
  • Serve your children. Some people may disagree with me, but I believe there is a time when it is good to serve your children. I learned so much about serving from how my mom served me – especially when I was sick. And I truly believe this has been essential to my children learning to serve.
  • Use the word serve. Whenever I ask my children to do something for their dad or their sibling I always ask “would you serve” – so “would you serve your daddy by bringing him his sandwich?” or “would you please serve your sister by sweeping the floor even though it is her responsibility?” This also teaches them how to look for opportunities to serve.
  • Look for ways to serve others and include your children. Every time someone needs a meal, my kids help make the meal and bring it with me. Sometimes the kids have even drawn get well cards for the person who is sick. And if your children ever ask to serve someone, do your best to always make it happen.
  • Get involved in an organization that teaches servant leadership. Another big helper for my children has been being involved in The Institute For Cultural Communicators. I could talk for ever about this amazing organization. You can learn more at the link above. If you know of other organizations that teach servant leadership to children please share it below.

What about you? Do you have ideas that can help children move from a yielding obedience to a servant’s heart?

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