Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Teaching My Kids Sacrifice

Teaching children selflessness is a hard thing to do. Giving something up for someone else can be difficult for adults and extremely challenging for kids.  It's hard to compete with our culture that thrives on selfishness, greed. and looking out for yourself.

Nate and I decided on a way to help teach our kids selflessness by sacrificing something they like, for someone in need. Every year my kids look forward to trick or treating in our neighborhood. This year, we wanted to challenge them to sacrifice going trick or treating, to give to the needy in another country.

As we sat down with our kids, I envisioned our kids accepting the challenge and happy to help others! I envisioned them thanking the Lord for an opportunity to serve Him. I envisioned us praying for the people in need that we would give to and have a sweet time as a family laughing, rejoicing and growing together in the Lord!

Well, would you like to hear how it really went? The picture of my boys faces might give you a hint. There were tears, complaints and opposition. There were questions of where would they get candy? Do we have to do this next year? And kids leaving the room. As we tried our hardest to gather everyone, calm them down and pour our hearts out about the importance of sacrificing for Jesus, we read James 1:27 with them:  "Religion that God the Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after Orphans and Widows in their distress and to keep oneself polluted by the world." They quietly went off to their rooms, some pouting, some thinking, Nate and I sat their alone wondering what happened to our sweet, caring family moment we were going to have? Did we do the right thing?

Despite the onset of opposition from the kids from the first invitation to sacrifice their candy, they did eventually come around. One of my children told me that night that serving God IS more important than candy. A few days later one of my other children honestly opened up and said they do understand. The Lord continued to encourage me as the days went on. It was a needed process for them.

Each of the kids got to pick out something in the Samaritans purse catalog to send to those in need. Melissa picked out a mosquito net. Hallie picked out a New Testament Bible, Luke and Micah, to no surprise of Nate and I, both picked out soccer equipment that is used to tell more kids about Jesus. We decorated posters with the things they chose to send over seas with the verse, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" and hung them on our dinning room wall. Before supper, we tried to take turns praying for the children that their gifts would impact their lives for Jesus. In addition to their giving, we planned to take them out to eat on the night of trick or treating and then take them shopping for a NEED they had to remind them of helping others in need.

All in all, it was a good, needful, growing experience for our family. I look forward to another time of growth for our family in this way. Even if it's not always the way I envision, I know that "(God's) thoughts are higher than my thoughts, and His ways are higher than my ways. " Is 55:9 He knows just what we and our children need to grow closer to Him, our TRUE sacrificial example.

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