One of the arguments against homeschooling I have heard over the years, has been the need to raise children who serve God as salt and light. Although I believe this misunderstanding of the lives of homeschoolers has changed since I first started to homeschool 18 years ago, some still view homeschoolers as isolated.
In our family, we have tried to make a deliberate effort to get our children involved in serving and helping others where ever we could, without simply being “busy” for the sake of doing things. This has not always been easy, and of course we’ve had to strike a balance between not being involved at all versus being so overly involved we have no family life.
The Little Things
Making room to serve can start with little things. It’s often been said that the little things matter the most to people in need.
One example of this has been to bake cookies and make a little card to cheer up others or to show our appreciation for them. Later this morphed into making Gingerbread houses for special people in our lives around the holidays.
As a family we’ve often made meals for those who are sick, recently had surgery, or recently had a baby. As my children have grown older, they’ve not only worked as babysitters, but they’ve also volunteered at times to babysit for those who had a need but couldn’t afford a sitter. Sometimes it has been as simple as entertaining someone’s little ones while at church or a ladies’ banquet.
Making room to serve can also mean finding small ways to be generous to those with less. Right now, we are going through a very lean time in our own family, and yet we’ve all received great joy from helping others in small ways. In particular we’ve been privileged to participate in Operation Christmas Child for the last few years, assembling shoe boxes full of goodies for other children, and we’ve donated to Living Waters, which provides those in the Third World with clean, fresh water by installing wells.
By encouraging small sacrifices of what we’ve been given, our whole family has been able to get outside of ourselves a little bit, and help those who are less fortunate than we are.
Developing Skills Through Service
Making room for serving can also be a great way to develop the skills and talents placed in each of our children.
For years, my son wanted to work in the sound booth of our church. He started to serve there last year, and has discovered a real gift for working with sound systems, technology, and recording equipment. This past summer, he was able to work out of state at a summer camp as an intern, which didn’t come with much pay (only pocket money, room, and board). His heart to serve grew even larger through this experience
Homeschooling has allowed this open door of service to be even more available to my children. Not locked into having to do hours of homework after a full day of school, my teens are more available than others to lend a hand where needed.
As I said earlier, there does need to be a balance. Just as it would be unhealthy to just shut ourselves up in our homes and away from the needs of others, it is equally unhealthy to spend every waking moment serving, without some rest, relaxation, and family time. This post is not about filling up our already busy schedules. Rather, I hope I’ve encouraged you with a vision to seek out ways, however big or small, to be a blessing to someone else.