Serving as a Family in a Self-Centered Culture

What does it mean to be a servant to others and how do we as a family serve others?

In today’s society, servant-hood seems to be a lost word and it is lost on many people. The idea of true servant-hood is one of sacrifice and putting others before yourself. It is contrary to our culture.

How does a parent instill a Christ-like attitude of servant-hood in our children when all they are exposed to in our culture is a selfish, instant gratification attitude? Our kids cannot go anywhere without being inundated with the messages of selfishness and looking out for number one. I as a parent even fall prey to that mindset. There are many ways that we as dads can show our kids how to put others first.

Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. The King of kings becoming the servant of all.

Be the role-model that our kids need us to be

Unfortunately, or rather fortunately it falls on us as parents to be the role models in this. Back when I was a child I remember having some good role models to look up to, but today it seems like there are fewer and fewer role models to look up to. And anyway it should be us as parents to model this for our kids.

I know that we as parents and especially dads get really busy just running the rat race of life and do not take the time to be others-centered.

I know I do. I find myself really busy between my job, my business and college, that having any time left to help others just seems impossible. I am not saying we stop all those things, but we can be doing little acts, even at home to show our kids how to be self-sacrificial and serve others.

It starts with being a servant to your kids’ mom

One of the things that turned my marriage around was when I as the husband really grasped the scripture Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, Love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it…” As I thought on that verse in the last period of separation that my wife and I went through, I really felt convicted of my self-centered nature and I only really focused on my needs in our marriage. Oh I took care of things, but I never did it with an attitude of being her servant and modeling Christ in our marriage. When I put her needs before my own and when I started doing things with a grateful heart and from the eyes of being a servant, my marriage and family life drastically changed. The things that happen in life didn’t get any better, in fact we went through many other hardships with our children being teenagers, but my perspective and attitude in these things changed. I still fall into my own self-centered nature, but I am more aware of it now and it takes me a lot less time to realize what I am doing. So it starts with how I look at things and how I treat my wife and the kid’s mom, no matter what the family situation looks like.

It moves from there to how I treat my kids

Coming from how I was raised in a more old-school household, I fall prey to that mindset as well sometimes, especially when my kids portray the typical teenage attitudes that are very prevalent today. I know that as a dad I have an incredible amount of influence in my kid’s lives, not only in my words, but especially in my actions. As they have gotten older it has become more important that I portray and act like I speak or tell them. “Just because I said so”, “Do as I say and not as I do”, and “I am the parent and you are the child” have very little influence or power anymore.

Because I am so busy, doing things for my kids seems like another daunting task, but I have found just doing little things can make a big difference in how they perceive a self-centered life and a life of servant-hood. For example, we live almost an hour away from my kids’ youth group and after a long day of work, I don’t want to take them to youth group and take up 4- 5 hours of my evening, but if I can do this (without complaining and with a cheerful heart) my children can see how to model being a servant, even when I don’t feel like it. Most parents sacrifice a lot when it comes to their kids, from taking them all over for school stuff or doing those last minute projects, and let’s face it dads, our wives do most of this and keep the house going, but we need to step up and take some of those things or other things to help out, instead of watching that football game or playing video games or whatever we want to do. (I find this especially difficult when the Broncos are playing ans I want to watch my favorite team!!!) We need to step up dads and model being a servant of others. Even these little things can have a big impact.

Here is a little video that I am sure many of us have seen on YouTube, but it captures the essence of helping others and the joy that can come from doing just simple selfless acts. I think this is why we love to hear stories on the news about paying it forward.

I know it has helped me to look at things a little differently. Check it out:

Start something that might be in your comfort zone to be a help to others

Finances are always an easy way for me to do something. Because my time is limited and very valuable to me, I find it easier to give money or support something. So our family supports kids in China and we as a family send them things as we can. The kids will write letters and send gifts from money that they earn. So this is just one way we do things that are in our comfort zone.

Move onto something that is beyond our comfort zone

Get your kids involved in helping and respecting others. My children volunteer for our church. It shows them how to help others and give sacrificially of themselves. Again this helps me adjust my attitude, because when they volunteer, I have to also sacrifice my time. which teaches me too.

Get them involved in helping others. We need to let our kids see us freely help others in every way possible. From providing a meal to a homeless person to giving our time to help other teenagers and making our house safe for other teens, especially today’s teens! I would say that teens today are dealing with more today than I would ever have thought imaginable or possible. I know it wasn’t this way when I was teen, so this needs to be in the forefront of our minds. Doing this is especially hard for me because my kids know that I am not a people person. Not that I don’t love to help people, but my personality is the type that tires very easily from being around people and so it is a big step out of my comfort zone to have people over. So start small and build as you can.

So I am still working on getting beyond my personality and getting out of my comfort zone to help others as time goes on. It is a work in progress and I am making steps in the right direction. Our kids need to not only hear our words, but see us in action portraying our servant hood and helping others.

Because I am not very good at living outside of our family unit, I needed help with this concept. So being an employee of Focus on the Family I went and looked for resources that we may have on this subject. I am truly amazed at what we have available to dads like me who are working on making our family better. So here is something that we have that I can say has helped me a bit and will help us as a family to go beyond ourselves this year. Especially as the holidays approach.

Here is a link to it:

So what does your family do to help others and be a servant to others? Do you have any holiday traditions that involve you and your family helping others?

I would love to hear about it! Feel free to post your thoughts and ideas in the comments!