Your Serve!

1 May 2004

Several years ago, my older daughter walked into the bedroom to ask an honest question about meal preparation. “Mom,” she began, “what should I use to serenade the chicken?”

I couldn’t resist. I suggested, “How about, ‘Hey, Good lookin’, whatcha got cookin’?” I know, I know, I’m a wise guy. After we had corrected her and pointed out that the word is “marinade,” I went out and sang a few tunes to the bird anyway. I think I softened it up a little, and I also had fun laughing with my daughter about the faux pas. I remember the time our oldest son was having some attitude problems when it came to doing work around the house. He was probably four years old at the time, and Cindy suggested that he sing while he worked. “It will make the work go by faster, and you might even enjoy it,” she said. And do you know, that to this day, Micah (nineteen) whistles or sings while he works? (I have heard that the carpenters he works with have asked him to take singing lessons, but that’s another story). Then there was the time I looked out the window and saw Micah teaching his brother, Caleb, how to mow the yard. Then a few years later, Caleb was teaching his brother Luke. One final example: I came home from work one day recently and my four-year-old met me at the door with, “Dad! I asked Mom a question today about a million times!” I smiled and said, “Susanna, please don’t ask Mom the same question more than once!” One of my other children chimed in, “No, Dad, she asked Mom if she could help her with anything.”

What do these stories have in common? They each illustrate a desire of our heart as we raise our children: we want our sons and daughters to grow up with a heart to serve others. We want them to follow the lead of the Lord Jesus who said, “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 10:45). If my children are to become servants like their Lord, their training must begin in the home. One of the reasons some young adults excel in the workplace is the work ethic they were taught in the home. Young people who were given responsibilities in the home, and taught how to perform those chores with excellence in work and attitude, are the ones who stand out in the business world. They are the ones who stand out, also, in the church, and they are the future moms and dads who understand that raising a family requires lots of time spent serving others.

The importance of servanthood was confirmed to me in the most unlikely of places recently. I took my three older sons to hear David Gergen speak at Elon University in January. David Gergen is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School, and was an advisor to four U.S. presidents, as well as editor of U.S. News and World Report. He is now the director of the Center for Public Leadership at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. In his lecture on leadership at Elon, Mr. Gergen said that one of the three most important qualities a leader must have is the ability to assume responsibility for the well-being of others, and that we learn to take care of others by first taking care of smaller tasks. He told a story from his first year in the Navy, right out of Harvard Law School, when he was given the job of walking the Admiral’s dog, complete with pooper-scooper! He related this to a quote from President Harry Truman who said, “It is not important that you have the best job—but that you do the best with the job that you have.”

Are you raising sons and daughters who delight in serving others? Are you training them to do the best with the job that they have—whether it is writing a paper, cooking a meal, helping a brother with math or mowing the grass? If so, you are changing the landscape of the your neighborhood, and the country itself. You are making a difference as you train your children to serve. You are leading them down the same path the Savior walked as He served us and gave His life for our sake. So, what are you waiting for? It’s your serve!

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