Our lives are busy. We run from school to pick up the kids, rush home to change clothes and eat a quick snack, and then head right back out to soccer practice or ballet. We’re in a hurry, and our fast-paced lives often leave little room for time to serve others. Offering our precious time, energy, and money to people outside our family requires planning and concerted effort. Yet as children of God, we are called to serve those in need.
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Here are 10 easy ways to shine your light for others. I challenge you to attempt some of these ideas this week.
(1) Prayer. Perhaps the easiest way to serve others is by praying for them. It doesn’t cost a dime, and you can do it while driving in the car or cooking supper. Think of people in your life in need who aren’t already on your prayer list and lift them up to the Father. Maybe you know someone who is struggling with cancer; pray for him. Maybe there’s a recently widowed woman at church who could use encouragement; pray for her. Saying a prayer for peace and comfort for those in need is a great way to serve.
“If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.”
(2) Send a card. Follow up your prayer by sending a card just to say, “I’ve been thinking about you and wanted to let you know you are in my prayers.” Cards are a wonderful and simple way to brighten up a person’s day, especially when you add a warm personal note. Who doesn’t enjoy getting cards in the mail?
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love…”
(3) Visit a nursing home. Maybe you know someone at a nearby nursing home that you could stop by and visit. Even if you don’t know anyone there, just walking around with your children and saying “hi” will bring a smile to an elderly person’s face. Older people love spending time with young’uns and may not receive many visitors from their own families; a visit from you would truly brighten their day!
“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
(4) Fix some extra supper to take to a new mom or shut-in. One of the greatest blessings after my daughter arrived were the meals my Bible study girls brought by. Not only did my family enjoy hot, home-cooked food, but I didn’t have to fix it, which allowed me to relax, recover, and spend more time bonding with my baby. It doesn’t have to be anything special, just whatever you are having that night for supper; keep it simple. She will be thrilled you thought about her.
“…through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'”
(5) Make a “Blessing Bag.” Jenae at I Can Teach My Child posted this awesome idea that she found on Pinterest and which I am stealing. A “Blessing Bag” is a Ziploc bag filled with snack foods, juice boxes, toiletries, and whatever else you have on hand. Fill up a bag or two to keep in your car, and when you spot someone in need, roll down the window and hand them a “blessing bag.” It’s an easy, nonconfrontational way to serve those less fortunate than you. My oldest daughter and I plan to make a couple this week. I think we might put a little Bible in there too!
“If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”
(6) Clean out your pantry! We are so blessed to have a full cupboard, freezer, and refrigerator. What about you? Let your child fill up a bag or two of groceries to take to an area food bank or women’s shelter. Then, take your child with you to drop off the bags of food. Getting your kids involved teaches them the importance of serving others and develops in them a heart of compassion.
“But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” 1 John 3:17
(7) Clean out the toy boxes! Another way to teach your children how to let their lights shine is by having them box up toys and books they no longer play with or read to donate to charitable organizations in your area or even to your church nursery. I know my girls could easily spare a few toys and books. Teaching them to share with others what God has blessed them with will promote selflessness and empathy, qualities this world needs.
“Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” 1 John 3:18
(8) Donate blood. This service requires a little more work but is well worth the effort, especially now following the devastation of Hurricane Irene. Giving blood is a service that literally saves lives. For more information, visit the American Red Cross’s website.
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
(9) Write. If you’re a blogger, you have the opportunity to share your skills with the world. The blogosphere is your platform. Choose a topic you are knowledgeable about that could help people improve themselves in some way, and do what you do best: Write! This may not sound like a service, but consider the potential for encouraging others with your God-given talent.
“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11
(10) Be alert. If you open your eyes and ears, there are countless opportunities to serve others right in front of you. Getting the door for someone whose hands are full, letting a flustered mom with a crying baby go ahead of you in the check-out line, letting a driver in front of you instead of cutting him off: these are all simple ways to serve others, but they require tuning in to others’ needs and tuning out of ourselves.
“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” John 15:12