“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.”
Recently, I’ve been convicted by the Holy Spirit to find ways to serve the people around me and to teach my children how to serve. It’s easy to make excuses not to serve. Trust me. I’ve made all of these before.
I have young children. I’ll wait until they’re older.
We have too many responsibilities. I’ll wait until I’m not so busy.
We don’t have any extra money. I’ll wait until my husband gets a raise.
We homeschool and don’t have time. I’ll wait until school is out.
We have a new baby. I’ll wait until the baby’s older.
My job keeps me too busy. I’ll wait until I have more free time.
But Jesus never made excuses; He simply served. Hesaw the needs before Him, and He met people where they were. Granted He didn’t have a gaggle of little children, but He was training 12 disciples to do kingdom work (sounds eerily like what we’re doing, Mamas). He didn’t have any money, but that didn’t matter. His work was to seek and save the lost, and He was about it.
Here are 10 easy ways to shine your light for others. I challenge you to attempt some of these ideas this week.
1. Say a 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 who are in need 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 for Mamas to serve.
Then, when you see that person, tell him or her you’ve been praying for them. Nothing blesses me more than to know I’m covered in prayer. Do just that for someone else.
“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?
Not sure what to say? I’ve recently discovered that there’s nothing more profound than to read a card filled with scripture. To know that someone picked out those verses just for me makes me feel so special and cherished. Find a verse or two that expresses your heart for the person and jot them on a note card or even an index card.
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love…”
3. Visit a nursing home or hospital.
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 people and may not receive many visitors from their own families; a visit from you would truly brighten their day! Have your children make cards to pass out is always nice.
“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 a meal to take to a new mom, a shut-in, or the sick.
One of the greatest blessings after my daughter arrived were the meals sweet friends 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. The meal doesn’t have to be anything special; keep it simple. Something I’ve started doing is doubling a recipe so I don’t have to fix two meals. Another option is to pick up food from a favorite restaurant. Either way, the person you serve will be thrilled you thought of him or 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 “Blessing Bags.”
Jenae at I Can Teach My Child posted this awesome idea a few years ago. A “Blessing Bag” is a Ziploc bag filled with snack foods, juice boxes, gum, 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, non-confrontational way to serve those less fortunate than you. Throw in a Bible or some scriptures on note cards for encouragement.
“If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”
6. Purge 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 box & closets.
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 dolls and books. Teaching them to share with others what God has blessed them with will promote selflessness and empathy, qualities this world needs.
While you’re at it, why not go through your closets and pull out clothes, shoes, and accessories you no longer wear? I did this recently and had several garbage bags full of things I didn’t need but that someone else might. Instead of taking them to Goodwill where things are sold, try to find a local shelter or ministry that gives clothes freely to the homeless or needy.
“Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”
1 John 3:18
8. Be alert.
This one seems so simple yet in our screen-obsessed culture, we are so oblivious to the needs of others. If you open your eyes and ears, there are countless opportunities to serve others right in front of you. Get the door for someone whose hands are full, let a flustered mom with a crying baby go ahead of you in the check-out line, let 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.”
9. Serve using your talents.
I like to write. As a blogger, I have a way to encourage others through the words God lays on my heart. Maybe your gift is photography. Offer your services for free to people who can’t afford family pictures or who have someone with a handicap or special need. If your gift is art, paint, draw, or sculpt something special for someone. Recently, a sweet friend made a beautiful baby blanket for my daughter. What a loving way to serve! God has blessed each of with us with special gifts. Use yours to further His kingdom.
“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11
10. Donate blood.
This service requires a little more work but is well worth the effort. There are so many people in need of blood, and giving blood is a service that literally saves lives. For more information, visit the American Red Cross’s website. Take your children with you when you donate.
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”
Are you waiting until you’re in a simpler season before you start serving? I challenge you not to wait. Sure, it will be tough, but the Lord rewards those who are faithful and obedient workers. How else will your children learn to be servants unless you provide opportunities for them the serve?
What are some ways you serve others? How can you serve someone today?