Rolling out of bed at the way-too-early time of 8:00am on Saturday morning in order to squeeze in a shower before leaving with my parents to the church was not my idea of fun. Sitting down in a circle of chairs still rubbing the sleep out of my eyes while a handful of others who are on time (and by their chipperness must drink very strong coffee) are trying to sing and pray. As the prayer time gets closer to concluding the other half of the team begins to trickle in fashionably late. I half wish that I could get away with being late, but am more annoyed that people who live twenty minutes closer to the church facility than my family somehow manage to be consistently late.
Then the checklist is pulled out. “Toilets? Vacuuming? Mowing the Lawn? We need two more to mow the lawn.” I raise my hand to push one of the mowers (if they actually work). “Dusting?” The list continues but I zone out happy that I avoided anything to do with bathrooms and trash.
By the time the church clean up finished I was awake and ready to have fun for the rest of the day. My family would hop back in the car and I would be free of mowing the lawn for Jesus for another three weeks.
As a high schooler I didn’t like the thought of serving the church by mowing the lawn and vacuuming on Saturday mornings. But my parents had a view for me and my involvement in helping out the church. It was greater than the legalistic sense of “we have to do this”. It was more pure than the guilt trip mentality of “good Christians serve the church”. The serving helped me into a life of serving others. Emulating Jesus who was the ultimate Servant. Who washed the feet of His disciples. Who left the glories of the heavens to serve, even to die in service, at the hands of His own creation.
Whether I fully understood it or not (and “not” was the case most of the time), my parents were preparing me to live and love like Jesus. I can honestly say that I am grateful for their vision and their helping me into the same vision. As an adult, I now serve a church willingly and even find myself seeking ways to practically involve myself in cleaning and improvements.
C.J. Mahaney writes about this in his book, Humility, in a section entitled “Teaching Our Children to Serve”:
My final suggestion to parents is to intentionally teach your children to serve – and whenever possible, serve in the church with your child.
Your family’s higher purpose is to serve the local church. It’s true that one reason the local church exists is to equip your family, but that isn’t its ultimate purpose; meanwhile, your family’s ultimate purpose is to serve in the context of the local church for God’s glory. The church is the true family of God, and you have the privilege to serve in the church not only as an adult but also with your child…
Finally, if you’re a parent, be assured that parenting is something God has called you to and that He has personally assigned your children to you both for their good and for your sanctification. They’re gifts from God, and they come with all the grace you need to prepare them for their future – and in particular for the day when you’ll appear with them before the judgment seat of Christ. What can you do today so on that day you and your children will hear the words “Well done”? (pp 165-166)