Why I can't teach my girls to serve the poor

This week our church is having it's annual Big Serve week.  A week dedicated to being intentional about living out our church's value of helping the hurting.  There are projects for families to participate in each day of the week so everyone can find one that fits their gifts and schedule.    

I was excited going into yesterday's service which would kick off the Big Serve week.   I was excited for my girls to hear the message. I think all kids need to hear the passages of scripture that clearly point out that there's more to this life as Christ follower than Jesus Loves Me, and Amazing Grace.   The ones like James 1:27, and Matthew 25: 31-46 that teach us that God actually does want us to be doing something with our time here on earth.  Between the now, and the eternal, there is work for us to do in serving those in need.

 Toward the end of the service we were asked to pull out of our programs the sign up form for the service projects of the week.  We were asked to pick one project to work on.  I sat staring at that little piece of paper.  For as inspiring as the message was, my heart was heavy. You see, if I am honest I have to admit, I don't really want to do the work of serving the poor right now.  There I said it.  It's easier for me to write a check, or fill a shoebox, then to actually do any work to help the least of these living in my own community.  I feel that I am too busy.  I am tired.  Our schedule overwhelms me.  Nursing homes smell.  The food bank makes me nervous.  That's the sad truth. 

I held the sign up sheet thinking it was important for my girls to learn about kingdom service.  I needed to set a good example and teach them about serving the poor. For the girl's sake,  I reached for the pen in the back of the chair in front of me, but it was missing.  Emily already had it.  She was holding her own sign up form and whispering hushed words to her sister.  They plotting and planning, and I held my breathe to see what project they picked for this week.  They circled the food drive, the first choice on the paper, and I quietly breathed a sigh of relief.  I'll fill some bags with food and bring it to church next week. I can do that. 

But Emily kept going.  With her sister's consent, she circled the nursing home bingo night.  They talked some more, and then circled helping at the food pantry on Saturday morning.  Emily passed me the form so I could fill in my email address.  Then she took it back so she could make sure it got deposited in the designated bucket at the back of the church.  

As we sang the last two worship songs together I thought that a family's faith journey isn't as simple as parents teaching their children.  Living out faith together as a family, means everyone is on the journey, and that includes me.  I'm on this journey with Pete and the girls to grow in our faith, and I am freshly reminded that I am not always going to be in the teacher role.  Somedays I need to play the role of student, and go where my girls can so capably lead me.  Their hearts did not factor in that the nursing home will smell, or that Saturday morning is the only morning we could sleep in this week.  Their hearts heard the Word of God, and they responded.  I have nothing to add and nothing to teach them on serving the poor, but they had so much to teach their momma.  While I am see obstacles in our budget and schedule that serve as useful excuses to not help those in need around us, my girls read verses like Matthew 25:35-36

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.

   ...and they just do think they should do that.  So I am following their lead this week.  We left church with not one bag to fill, but 15, because Emily was sure our friends and neighbors would want to fill a bag too so we should get some for them.  I sent an email out to our neighbors last night and so far 9 families have asked us to drop them off a bag today, so I guess she was right.

What faith lessons are your children teaching you these days?  I would love to hear about them.