Servant Hearts: Serving as a Family and Training Up Helpers

Jesus was a servant, and so if we are to follow Him, we should have servant hearts as well. Serving God as a family is a vital part of who we are as believers in Christ. It is how we “love others” as He commanded, reaching out to the world in the name of Jesus. 

Characteristics of a servant heart:

  • Compassion and obedience
  • Seeks out opportunities
  • Serves family
  • Serves community
  • Reaches out to the world
Compassion and Obedience

This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. ~ John 15:12

When we are in close relationship with God, we are necessarily moved by His love for us and His commandment to love others. We are filled up in His mercy and grace, growing deeper in love with Him, and are compelled to love and serve others. It’s practically unavoidable! The servant’s heart beats in time with the servant King’s heart, overflowing with compassion for His people. 

When we spend time with God in prayer and in the Word, His compassion and love for people is plainly evident. We should intentionally teach our children of God’s desire for us to serve others and reach out to the lost. There are times when we may not feel like helping someone or connecting with them. However, we are also called to obedience! Serving others is a command, not an optional add-on to the Christian life!

Seeks Out Opportunities

Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. ~ Romans 12:10

A few years ago I attended a talk by Michelle Anthony, author of Spiritual Parenting: An Awakening for Today’s Families. One of the best things I learned was the concept of “what needs to be done?” When I got home, I started talking to my kids about how we can start to learn to serve like Jesus by simply looking around and saying “what needs to be done?”

  • Is there a can of soup in the grocery store aisle? I’ll pick it up! 
  • Does the new kid look lonely or scared? I’ll go make friends with them! 
  • Did the neighbor have surgery? Let’s walk her dogs!
  • Does Mom look tired? I’ll make dinner for the family and do all the dishes! Well, my kids are all 6 and under. This last one may be a pipe dream just yet. 

This simple perspective shift had a truly significant change on our family culture. We occasionally need to return to that lesson (right about now would be good), but when we do, we put on our “servant heart” eyeglasses and see the world in a whole new way.  

Serves Family

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. ~ Philippians 2:3-4 

I truly believe that the training ground for servant-hearted adults is the family. Part of our responsibility as parents is to do what we can to raise up kids who love and serve others well. Daily family life is perfect for this training:

  • As moms, how can we truly serve our family instead of just going through the motions? 
  • How can our kids learn to serve their siblings? 
  • Can they identify a need and come up with a plan to fill it? 
  • Do we treat housework as chores, or acts of service and being a responsible part of the family? 

As we make meals, go on outings, handle conflicts, care for the home, do school work, and celebrate special events, we must be diligent to keep an eye toward teaching our children to consider the needs of others, and not just their own. Any mom knows that’s practically a full-time job right there!

As important as it is to teach our children these things, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s hard to serve! It’s hard to set aside our “rights” and preferences in order to meet the needs of another. And frankly, we’re going to fail at it and so are our kids. We can be honest about this and lead our children to Jesus for forgiveness when they (or we) fail, and to the Holy Spirit for help to serve in the future. 
Serves Community

And whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” ~ Mark 10:44-45

Most people these days don’t really know the people that live in their neighborhood. Do you? Do your kids? One of the best ways to teach our kids how to live out the command to “love your neighbor” is to love your actual neighbors

Just get started! Sometimes the easiest way to serve and get to know your neighbors is by walking over there with your kids and a hot plate of cookies. They might think you’re weird, but they usually get over it by the third or fourth time. Hanging out front playing or gardening is also a great way to get to know them. Your consistent presence and the help of the kids (who are natural ice-breakers) will do a lot to get a relationship started. 

Of course, you can extend this servant vision beyond your immediate neighbors and reach out to community workers such as the garbage man, mailman, police, grocery store clerk, and more. Smiling and saying hello can honestly make someone’s day. When you begin to reach out and serve them in practical ways, they will be blown away!

Reaches Out to the World

Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! ~ 1 Chronicles 16:24

My children range in age from 1 -6 years. They are just beginning to become aware of the concerns of those who live outside their bubble. As they grow older, there will probably be missions trips and much talk about reaching the lost in the name of Jesus. 

My first mission is to my children. Our family lives on mission in our community. Some day, we will help our children step out into the world in missions and we may even take a trip together. But how do we teach this world vision now? What are the essentials of a mission-minded family? 

The more I learn about who God is and what He has done, is doing, and will do, the more I love Him; the more I experience His presence; the more I love His commands; the more I love His people. It is the natural development of missional living. The same is true for my children!
  • Teach them God’s Word and character
  • Tell them about His heart for the lost
  • Begin to show them the need in the world
  • Read servant-heart stories (family members who serve each other, missionary stories, community heroes)
  • Demonstrate compassion and service
  • Pray that their relationship with God would grow and that they would answer His call to service
Resources and Links
Here are some great resources for to help us serve our families better and teach our children to serve. 


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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Kristi

    I LOVE the Dunagan’s books! We were blessed to be able to meet them at Teach Them Diligently Nashville. Can’t WAIT to read The Scarlet Cord!

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