Go Home and Love Your Family ~ Written by Jamie C. Martin
Check out what Mother Teresa once said:
“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”
Powerful words. Creating a family culture of serving one another at home naturally leads to a lifestyle of serving others outside of the home.
By raising our kids to live mission-minded, they will take that perspective and apply it to whatever they go on to do in life. Here are five practical steps to consider:
1. Write a family mission statement.
You can find a helpful guide to creating a purpose statement as a family on The Art of Simple. This allows you to decide what your family is all about–and if you recite it regularly–the words will naturally begin to influence your home atmosphere.
Our family doesn’t have an official purpose statement per se, but we do have a learning manifesto that I read on Monday mornings to kick off a new week with intention.
I can even remember reading these words aloud through tears of frustration mixed with mustard-seed faith when my kids were small and bickering loudly at the breakfast table! Now the words have become such a part of our lives that they often recite them with me.
2. Have everyone contribute to the family without pay.
Little children can put away toys and do a variety of simple tasks. Older kids can begin to contribute to the family in larger ways: cooking meals, handling detailed cleaning, looking after younger siblings, and so on.
Not getting paid for this work develops a serving-others attitude, even when there’s nothing in it for yourself. This attitude, which has been around for centuries, is sadly beginning to evaporate within our society.
If you’re wondering how to teach your kids to clean and help within the family, this post I wrote might help. My three children clean each weekday as part of our regular routine without pay, and also have extra jobs they do get paid for.
Don’t try to follow our exact formula, but just look at what will work for you and yours.
3. Mention it when you’re struggling to serve.
“I don’t feel like making dinner today, but I know the family needs it so I’m going to do it anyway.”
Sometimes when I have a yucky attitude about my own daily tasks, I mention it to my kids. I want them to see that they’re not the only ones who struggle with what is asked of them, and I want to model putting aside my own feelings to serve when it’s right to do so.
Of course on other days it’s best to throw a frozen pizza in the oven, and call it a day!
4. Look for simple needs to meet around you.
A neighbor with a new baby, food drives at church, clearing out gently used toys for Goodwill – so many situations arise in our daily lives where we have a small opportunity to impact others.
Take advantage of these as a family, and make sure to share with your kids why you’re doing it and how it will bless others.
5. Start a positivity jar.
A positivity jar is an easy tool to use in your home–one that allows your kids’ good choices to benefit others. Find detailed instructions to make your own here, but here’s a brief overview:
Using a jar and a bag of dried beans, you add one or more beans to the jar when your child makes a positive choice at home. This could be for anything you determine: doing school work diligently, being kind, or completing chores without complaining.
Each bean is worth 10 cents (or whatever amount you decide), and when the jar is full the children get to donate the money to a charity of their choice. It’s a fantastic way to let kids’ service within the home impact those outside of it, which leads to a greater mission-minded perspective.
We have years to spend with our children. Just by raising them with a mission, we create an atmosphere that permeates our home and leads to thinking of and serving others, which I also believe leads to a happier life.
And isn’t that what we most want for ourselves and our kids?!
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