Teens are naturally self-centered. The high school years are a time of great self-discovery as young people decide who they will be, what they will believe, and how they will interact with the world. That’s why we as parents work hard to bring them out of themselves, to show them the tremendous impact they can make on the world around them.
We all learn so much through service. We learn true humility, proper perspective, higher priorities, and broader worldview by meeting the needs of others. When we bring our children and teens with us in service, when we include them in regular ministry, we help them reach a higher potential far beyond themselves.
As parents, we cannot instill values and habits into our teens that we don’t practice ourselves, right? That’s why serving together is so important. When we model the right behaviors and attitudes before our teens, these values will become much more contagious.
But this is not a one-time thing. Putting the needs of others ahead of ourselves is a constant struggle with our flesh, and this is why ministry is always inconvenient, tiring, and stressful. So in order to help our teens overcome these natural tendencies toward selfishness, it’s important to keep a few principles in mind.
How to Serve with Our Teens
Volunteering just once a year won’t change lives — not ours, not our teens, and not our community. The spirit of service will transform hearts, however, with consistent practice and regular dedication. Ask yourself how many regular service commitments does your family participate in an ongoing basis.
Make a commitment.
When your family takes up a cause or ministry, be sure you are truly committed. The activities will be at inconvenient times; you will fight fatigue, sickness, and discouragement; it will not be fun after the first month. Just count on all of that. It takes commitment through thick and thin, however, to get the job done. Ask yourself how often you cancel, reschedule, or back out to test your family’s commitment.
Focus on others.
If you are participating because it is fun or my friends are there or this is today’s popular issue, then your impact for eternity will be small — you have your reward. However, if you are focused on the impact your service makes on others, your reward is in heaven. Ask yourself what motivates you on difficult days to find out where your true motivation lies.
Ideas for Family Ministry
There are many ways you can be involved in serving as a family. Most of these are opportunities we have done or are doing together — parents, children, and teens. I’m sure you can think of many more.
In Your Neighborhood
- Look in daily on neighbors
- Walk neighbor pets
- Work yard jobs for elderly or infirm
- Entertain neighbor children
- Provide snacks and study help for latch-key students
- Help with homework
- Take in mail daily
In Your Community
- Coach a recreational sports team
- Regularly visit a nursing home
- Reshelve in the library
- Read aloud to young children
- Bathe pets at the animal shelter
- Build a park playground
- Fundraise for a community service or project
- Clean up after a natural disaster
- Sort donations at a food pantry
In Your Church
- Care for babies in the nursery
- Teach a class together
- Serve in a youth ministry
- Join the choir
- Assist with sound technology
- Clean the church regularly
- Organize ministry materials for a class
- Clean out a closet or room so it can be better utilized
I’m sure you can think of more ways. How do you serve together as a family?
I’d love to keep in touch!
Get the book!
Now available on Kindle — Homeschool Made Easy!