This morning I joined by wife and oldest daughter to a recognition event for many who spent numerous hours over the last year serving. This event was hosted and held at the Salvation Army. I really didn’t want to go but I thought about all the times I have dragged (not literally) my wife to things she maybe didn’t really want to attend! I’m glad I went! I heard some great stories like a gentleman who has volunteered his time with the Salvation Army for the last 30 years and this past holiday season raised/collected $30,000…I know right, big bucks! I then listened to a story about a young man who through his last minute work helped get gifts for 300 kids who otherwise would had woke up Christmas morning without a thing. It was such a joy to hear these stories on the selfless deeds of all of these individuals! The best story to me though I heard was at the table I was seated at…
I had the pleasure of meeting a 14 year old young man named Joe. For privacy reasons I won’t tell you Joe’s last name (even though I don’t know it). At first I didn’t know if he was just there joining his mom but after conversing a little I learned Joe spent last Christmas season volunteering as a bell ringer in western KCK. Yeah, you read that right…14 years old and volunteered his time as a bell ringer. I asked Joe why did he spend his time volunteering. He basically said one reason was he needed to collect some volunteer hours so he thought this would be a good way to do such. In my head I thought of all the ways to volunteer he decided to use his evenings and weekends (in the winter…when its a little cold outside) to stand outside ringing a bell not knowing if people would give because it is the Christmas season. He could had easily went to a retirement home where it was nice and cozy and not much standing. No, he chose to stand outside a location and ring a bell (which could be annoying at times). I came away with a few things after talking to Joe.
1) Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number: If you are around my age you remember this song even though the context is much different. What I was reminded by Joe is there is no age limit on what age we need to get young people involved. We constantly look for opportunities to get our daughters involved in serving the community. I remember even having our 6 year old when she was 5 doing little things at Harvesters. When looking at the scriptures we see how Christ himself put an emphasis on serving. Never in the scriptures do I see an age requirement! (Matt 20:28, Eph 6:7, 1 Peter 4:10-11. As parents/mentors/teachers we need to continuously look for opportunity to get our young people engaged in the community. We can’t use the excuse they aren’t old enough! Cook a meal for a neighbor and let your 2 year old carry a portion of it over there. Teach your 4 year old to clear the table for others. How about going to a neighborhood park and picking up trash? Be creative in your thinking but I feel most kids can learn early the mindset of serving.
2) Be A Model: I know some of you feel good about your looks but I’m not talking about a fashion model or magazine model! Model what it is we expect and want for your young people to do. One thing I heard when talking to Joe and his mom is Joe’s older brother used to serve in the same capacity. Joe watched individuals older than him spend time serving those around them at no cost so when Joe got of age to serve he jumped in feet first. It makes little sense for me to tell my kids to go serve and I sit at home watching tv all day and night. I look at this as a form of discipleship. I go on and on about how discipleship is NOT just sitting down in front of a bible and surveying the scriptures. Discipleship is life on life! When Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2, “the things you have heard me say”…I’m confident Timothy also saw Paul model a way of life that would be pleasing to the Father. As adults if we hope to see our kids serve their community it is important for us to model it. Husbands and wifes…serve each other faithfully in front of your kids…the best example starts at home.
3) Humility: The young man I met this morning happened to a humble guy! It is not often I hear a young person not willing to tell everything they have or is doing. I’m sure the bell ringing is not the only thing he is doing. Not once did he on his own talk about how many days or hours he spent ringing a bell. He didn’t tell what all he gave up in order to serve as a volunteer. He didn’t receive an award this morning but joyfully applauded all the others who received recognition (Phil 2:3, Col 3:12). He served and didn’t expect anything in return. Luke 17:10 tells us to serve and when done just say we have done our duty. As believers we shouldn’t expect recognition or pats on the back. We should be happy in the fact the Lord decides to use us in any capacity to bring glory to himself. When we serve, do it with humility and gratitude!
Joe more than likely didn’t expect this today when he woke up but I walked away highly encouraged. I was encouraged knowing all young people aren’t self seeking hedonist. We live in a time where most young people spend their time watching tv, playing videos games, or hanging out on facebook. If we model servanthood and continue to provide opportunities for our young people we can do great things in our communities. I challenge the parents…get your kids involved with SOMETHING! There are too many opportunities out there and organizations needing help. I challenge the parents…YOU do SOMETHING! You are your child’s best example. Show them the importance of serving and giving of themselves for the sake of others. I thank Joe for his service and not being content with doing something safe and comfortable.
Remember…Fear God, Keep His Commandments…this is the duty of all mankind