SUMMARY: I think we all aspire to be great fathers. In today’s Resolute Podcast, Vince shares how serving is catalyst for your leadership and the spiritual growth of your children and four ideas to implement now before time has passed you by.
RESOLUTE STUDY GUIDE: SERVE MORE
Men, I think we all aspire to be great fathers. In fact, no one listening today sets out to be a bad father. Yet we know, that in that moment we reflect on how we have done as a father I would assume most of us understand that we have room for improvement in the spiritual leadership of our children.
As I mentioned last time, the last few months for me has been a reflective season, as my oldest child, of my three kids, is now in her senior year of high school. This season has me reflecting and evaluating my effectiveness as father. Now this reflection has brought me to the conclusion that “yes” I could have done more to lead my children spiritually. And with this in mind, I have decided to address a short list of the things I wish I would have done more by not missing out on, but rather leveraging while my daughter is at home. I have turned these regrets into goals. So I have made 5 goals this year as a father. The first week I shared the first goals which was LISTEN more, and last time the second which was PRAY more, today we are going to be discussing the third of these 5 goals which is SERVE more. This is definitely something I wish I would done more, and something I am trying to proactively and practically changing this year.
So here is what I would like to do today. I want to look at a few verses out of Matthew 18 and then give you 4 regret free ways to elevate service with your kids – with the outcome of increasing your spiritual leadership. Today’s text is Matthew 18:1-5, and gentlemen do not dismiss this text! Listen very carefully…
1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
I just want to quickly reference only one observation from this text. With great priority men, I think we need to really reflect on the major issue of this text. It is the topic of debate in verse one. So let me say this strongly and clearly. I think we are far too often distracted by our own agenda and miss precious opportunities right in front of us. This is exactly what is happening with these men. They are so focused on their own agenda that they miss what is right in front of them. Of course, Jesus appropriately turns this into a teachable moment, but I wonder if the engulfment of our own agendas is the ultimate reason we live with regret as fathers? Just a thoughtful observation from these verses. Maybe we have regrets as fathers because we have been overly distracted by our own agendas. Hmmm – just a question to ask yourself.
Unfortunately this is major contributing to factor to not investing enough time into our children. And keep in mind this can be an ongoing issue because we know this was not the only time they debated this subject. This happens 3-4 other times in the gospels which we have record of, where the disciples are debating who is the greatest and so distracted by their own ideas of success. The one that kills me, is the one argument right after the Lord’s Supper. This means that Jesus’ impending death is just moments away and they are still debating this.
Men we can easily be distracted by many pressing issues but how we engage as fathers is critical. Taking the time to invest in the them in important during the impressionable years, especially when they are young, and if it ends up costing us time for our agenda – well it is worth it if we keep the long view and want to really invest in their eternity.
Another goal I am attempting to set is to serve along my kids more. While serving is not one of my spiritual gifts, I do love to serve people. It gives me great joy to do things for someone else, and all of our gifts and talents are to be directed to serve others. However, I think there is something special about serving alongside of our kids. This is something I have not done well with my family, and actually I am ashamed to admit it. Service is a powerful language and while I have served much throughout my Christian life, I have not served along side my kids enough. Numerous times, my wife and I have talked about doing this, but we just have not come full circle on this, and it seems that every time we plan something that something gets in the way in our busy schedules that seems to compete. And even as I admit this – I think this is unacceptable.
Maybe this has not been a struggle for you, but it has for me, only because I have not taken conscious action to implement it. Often this is because serving requires a lot of exhausting by-in and work! Serving requires time, energy, and money, but often the greater obstacle is our kids themselves who will protest the required time, work, and flexibility needed to serve. While all this is difficult serving is the incubator for a spiritual metamorphosis. In the pain, struggle, and discomfort of service we find a greater purpose and even more we discover Christ himself.
Let’s note these words from Jesus from Matthew 20:26-28
“26 But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Now keep in mind these words fall from the mouth of Jesus Christ himself after the mother of James and John came to Jesus, asking for her boys to have seats of prominence in the future kingdom. Again the same issue that we have addressed above. Men were distracted by significance in their life and missing the point that significance is found in service, not the guarantee of a title. But don’t miss this — service is actually where we are most like Christ. And when we serve with our children we have the opportunity to bring them close to mission of Jesus Christ and discover the way of his life. Because his life mission was to serve us, in every way, and for this reason he has earned the title “Servant of All.”
So here are 4 practical options I have been pondering for my family for the year, which I have been in active conversation with my wife about. I think it is critical to get practical, right? So the following are only a few of my ideas. This list could be much longer, but what I have discovered is that you have to start discussing it, and not give up following through too soon.
ONE | PLAN AND EXECUTE A SERVICE PROJECT TOGETHER. This year gather your kids for at least one service project that you do together from beginning to end. While we may direct our kids on this to a some degree, giving them some decision making power helps them have stake in the game. Let them come to some conclusion on what we can do as a family to serve those around us. I believe this does not have to be complex but it should be agreed upon, executed together, bathed in prayer, debriefed after, and repeated. Keep it simple – like head to a food shelf, rake a neighbor’s leaves, serve food to the homeless, support a missionary or sponsor a kid. But be actively involved in it. I believe when we get our hands dirty we simply learn more.
TWO | TAKE A FAMILY MISSION TRIP. This year we are hoping to take a family mission trip together. Foregoing the need for a vacation. For our teenage family this is within the realm of possibilities. Now this may not be the case for you, but instead of just serving our own desires on a vacation, we are hoping that a family mission trip with fill us more and create lasting memories we will never forget. I have never done this as a family and I am excited to report back, the experience. Over my lifetime I have been on mission trips to over 20 countries, and I have discovered that serving this way awakens the spirit and is a powerful cross-cultural teacher. Why would I not want my children to have this experience? And even better with me!
THREE | SERVE IN CHURCH TOGETHER. I truly believe serving together at church can be an active way to engage as a family. Perhaps some of my greatest memories with our kids were camps that I was serving at where the kids were also engaged when they we younger. While this was great, I was not serving along side of them. I think them witnessing our service is valuable. So perhaps you can engage in some activity as a family at church. Be creative, there are more options than you think. Every pastor at your church wants help – I promise you.
FOUR | TAKE A SPIRITUAL GIFTS ASSESSMENT WITH YOUR CHILDREN. This could be a huge opportunity for you, to take the spiritual reigns with your children. Give them a spiritual gift assessment and discuss their unique spiritual gifts with them as a family and how you and others see their gifts play out. Now if your kids are too young this may not work for you. But what is powerful about this, is that you start building a language to encourage your children and pray directionally for them. If you need a spiritual gift assessment we have one you can take online on our website that will immediately compile the data for you and give you a simple language. I would recommend that you take this first and discuss the use of your own spiritual gifts and how you put them to use in your life. To access this assessment just go to the home page – one of the sliders addresses this.
So men, you could probably come up with a million ideas if you simply just paid attention to the issues around you. But these are four simple ideas. I will say again, serving with my kids, is definitely one of the things I have not done enough. We need to do this more! So don’t wait until it is too late. You get approximately 18 impressionable years to lead your kids and teach them the importance of service. If you subtract the years between 16-18 that you see them less then you can lower it to 16. This is a short period of time to leverage in the opportunity.
So men get off the bench and get into the game, and do something.