By: Brittany Ann
School shootings. Political unrest. Racism. Greed. Selfishness.
Seems like every time you turn on the news, all you see is a world desperately in need of the hope of Jesus.
As Christians, we have a call to love and serve others. To point the world to Jesus and to make the world a better place. And honestly, I think most of us do want to — we just don’t always know how.
Or we get so overwhelmed by the size of the problem that we think we have nothing to offer. That what little we can offer can’t possibly help. So we don’t even try. Or we don’t try very hard.
Well, today, I have good news for you:
God didn’t ask you to save the whole world. That’s Jesus’s job. Your job is simply to be a good steward of the resources and opportunities you are given.
“Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise.” — Andy Stanley
It’s one thing for you to do random acts of kindness to help out your community or people all over the world, but are you also raising your children to do the same?
Are you teaching your children to live generously, to help others in need, and to make a real difference in the lives of others whenever and wherever they can? Are you setting a positive example, and teaching them to follow it?
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”–Proverbs 22:6 NKJV
Personally, I have a serious desire not only to be a world changer myself, but to raise my children to be world changers as well. If you do too — read on! I’m sharing five of my best tips on raising world changers down below.
1. Make Them Aware of the Need
I’ll be the first to admit — My kids live in a bubble.
They go to a Christian church, a Christian school… All of their close friends and family are Christian. I monitor what they read, what they watch… The world is full of all kinds of “yucky” things — and I don’t want my kids to see it.
And yet, how can our kids change the world if they don’t know that the world needs change?
How can they show compassion to those in poverty if they don’t know poverty exists? How can they learn to love others who are different than them if they’re only surrounded by people who are the same?
As my kids grow a bit older, I absolutely hope to get them involved in more projects and outreach ministries, but for now, we talk. And you can too.
- We talk about wanting to adopt foster kids someday, and why some kids need adopting.
- We talk about the Salvation Army door knockers, and why we give them money
- We sponsor a little boy my son’s age, so we talk about what life is like for him and how different it is than ours.
Pause and reflect: What conversations can you have with your kids today?
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Today, leaving the grocery store, we saw a woman hobbling home. Now, normally I never stop to pick up strangers, but today I did. Turns out she had spent the day going all over town, trying to find help getting food, but no one would help. Food stamps wouldn't kick in for two more days and she has twin three year old grandbabies at home that need to eat. Oh, and it was her birthday. Want to make a difference in this world? There are opportunities ALL around you every day. You just have to open your eyes to see them and be brave enough to act. Because if you don't – who will? You may be the answer to someone's very desperate prayer today. Will you step out in faith and show up?
2. Lead by Example
Before we can expect our kids to change the world, we have to start by setting a good example ourselves.
So helping others isn’t just something missionaries do, or something that you should do (but nobody actually does). It’s normal. It’s a way of life. It’s just what you do.
After all, helping others really isn’t difficult or time-consuming. You just have to remember to keep your eyes open for ways to help and then actually take action.
This might include things like:
- Decluttering your house and donating the items to a non-profit or charity
- Going shopping specifically for items for canned food or diaper drives
- Donating to causes that are important to you
- Stopping to help someone on the side of the road
- Volunteering at the animal shelter
- Paying for people’s groceries at the grocery store
- Picking up trash at the park
And don’t forget to also share with your children what you are doing and why.
After all, your kids don’t check your bank account. If you are making auto-payments to your favorite charity month after month, they have no way of knowing unless you talk about it with them.
Simply saying “This is important” isn’t enough. You have to demonstrate it through action. Action they actually see.
Pause and reflect: Are you doing anything to make a positive difference in your community or in the world? Do your kids know what you are doing and why it is important?
3. Give Them Opportunities to Act
I totally missed a “world changer” opportunity with my oldest son a couple of years ago.
Many years back, Sarah McLachlan did some heart-wrenching ads for SPCA. Well, he saw one and it made him so sad he was CRYING big tears. He was so concerned for the dogs.
I should have said, “That is so sad. Do you want to help? We can call. We can donate. We can help a pup.” It would have been empowering. It would have made a difference, and taught him that, even at a young age, he has the power to help.
But instead I just said “That’s why they put them on TV. So people will see them and adopt them.”
I didn’t take any responsibility. I basically just said “It’s someone else’s problem. We don’t have to act.” #mumfail. Sure, we couldn’t adopt a pup right then, but we could have done something.
The truth is: Little kids (and even big kids!) are limited in what they can do. They don’t have jobs. They can’t drive. My kids can’t even cross the street by themselves. That’s why it’s up to YOU to help them think of practical ideas, and then help them carry them out.
Pause and Reflect: What causes do your kids care about or ask about? How can you empower them to help, even if only in small ways?
4. Encourage Your Kids to Be Generous
While little kids can be very selfish by nature, they can also be incredible sweet and generous too. And the more you can encourage this unselfish generosity, the better off they’ll be.
My children will actually spontaneously take up a collection for our sponsored child, put nearly all of their money in the envelope, and then go around the house asking everyone else if they want to donate too, but it doesn’t start there.
Instead, you can start by:
- Giving your children money to donate (such as to charity door knockers)
- Have your children put your tithe envelope in the basket at church
- Giving your children money to shop for a Christmas present to donate to an organisation like The Smith Family
- Asking your children to go get a toy or stuffed friend for a crying sibling
- Asking your children to help you find toys they no longer play with anymore, that they could donate instead
- Having your children make cards and draw pictures for sick children in the hospital
Pause and Reflect: How do your children show generosity? How can you praise and build on this behaviour?
5. Make Serving Fun — Never a Punishment
And finally — one last tip: Remember to keep serving others lighthearted and fun.
Your goal here is NOT to get your kid to serve in the short term, but to raise a world changer who truly has a heart for serving over the long haul.
This means NO saying things like:
- “Eat your dinner. Don’t you know there are kids starving in Africa??”
- “You’re so spoiled/greedy. You should be thankful for what you have. Most people don’t have it as good as you do.”
- “If you can’t play nicely with your toys, I’m going to take them away and give them to someone who can appreciate them.”
Statements like these only cause animosity and create competition between your child and others. They create a scarcity mentality, and a desire to look out for number one.
Instead, say things like:
- “Here’s the situation. I’m going to do something about it. Do you want to help?”
- “There’s a need. What can we do? Do you have any ideas?”
- “God has blessed us with so much. It feels so good to be able to give to others.”
If your children don’t want to help at first, that’s OKAY. Don’t force it.
Just present the opportunity, give your children an invitation, and allow them to act out of the goodness you want to cultivate in their hearts, not because they feel pressured or forced.
Keep modelling selfless service to others with your life, find a cause your children care about, and give them time. They’ll come around.
Article supplied with thanks to Equipping Godly Women.
About the Author: Brittany is a wife, a mother of three, a writer, author, teacher, and lover of Jesus!