Growing up, my parents always made opportunities for us as kids to be invested in the lives of other people (maybe intentionally or maybe just because that’s who they were). I can still say that to this day, my mom and dad are some of the most servant-hearted and generous people I know.
I can remember going to the rescue mission to help fix meals for the homeless, visiting widows and shut-ins, and serving missionaries and the members of the churches where my dad pastored. Much of our family time growing up included time spent serving others together. And what better way to make memories together than to do it by making a real difference at the same time.
As our children have grown, we have strived to develop within them that same servant’s mindset that our parents naturally instilled into us. If I could try and describe it best, I’d have to say that our parents always taught us how to be open-handed — to live a life characterized by the spirit of generosity.
Jesus Himself lived an open-handed life and operated an open-handed ministry. He came to seek, to save, and to serve.
With these thoughts in mind, here are three ways that your family can stay open-handed and generous during the upcoming seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas:
1. Find Ways to Give (of Your Time and Your Money).
Making your family life about more than just living for yourselves leaves a valuable impression upon the hearts and minds of your children — an impression that will ultimately become a part of their character.
Learn to have fun as a family by saving money to give to special projects (missions, needy families, a widow) and by spending time thinking and planning ways that you can get creative to give of your money and yourselves to meet others’ needs.
As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10)
Freely ye have received, freely give. (Matthew 10:8)
A few years ago, our family saved up $100 with the specific intent of going out to eat and finding a family in the restaurant whose meal we could buy. We prayed over the choice of the restaurant and that the right family would be there. And God clearly answered. Seeing the expressions on that families’ faces when complete strangers bought their meal was a priceless lesson I don’t think our kids will ever forget.
2. Find Ways to Serve (Those in Leadership and Those in Need).
One of the most powerful things you can ever do for your kids is developing in them a generous heart toward others. Specifically, teach them ways to love and serve those in leadership and those in need.
Also, when a need is brought to your families’ attention, don’t just sweep it under the rug if you have the wherewithal to meet it. Your kids will take notice.