Raising Servants

15 08 2012

One of the most specific goals that we have as parents is to raise servants. It is our deep desire that our children learn the beauty, sacrifice, obedience, blessing, and joy of what it means to imitate the One who came to reveal the servant-heart of God.

This week I realized that we may have missed an important piece in the process of helping to shape servant-hearts.

When talking about service, there are always two sides to the coin – there is the one who offers the service and the one who receives the service. Jesus knew how to do both well. He didn’t come to be served, but He graciously received the service of others. He ate meals cooked for Him, accepted gifts given to Him, and allowed others to meet His needs. Tears washed His feet, perfume scenting His spot at the table as He opened Himself up to be cried upon and cared for.

Perhaps part of the key to being a servant is knowing how to graciously receive service. Jesus always accepted these heart gifts with gentleness and transparency. He never pouted about sitting at the table, rather than being in the kitchen. He didn’t shoo people away, mumbling that He could handle it Himself. Thankfulness defined His heart as He acknowledged the God-movement behind the acts of service offered to Him.

Most of us are comfortable being on the giving side of service. It is the receiving end that gives us trouble. We are uncomfortable with being served. We don’t like others seeing us in anything but a position of control and responsibility. We dismiss opportunities to be dependent, vulnerable, or transparent. It takes humility and grace to receive the blessing of service. Perhaps learning how to receive service would make us better servants.

My Jesus Resolution today is to imitate Jesus in the way He accepted the service of others. His gentle example of how to be on the receiving end of service is a quiet thread that runs through the Gospels. Learning the grace of receiving service has the power to open my eyes and soften my heart. I treat others differently when I take turns standing in their shoes. If I am going to raise servants, I need to teach them the blessing of looking like Jesus no matter which side of service they find themselves on.



One response

15 08 2012

Being on the receiving end may we all graciously receive as well as give.Dear Beloved Parent:
     If there is anyone who knows how important the role of a parent is, it is God. As our Heavenly Father, He understands parenthood first hand, He knows the pain and joys that you go through. Because God has appointed you leader of your families, the priest of your home, the lovers and protector and representation of God to your children, He also will surely equip and anoint and empower you for good success.
     As you set aside each day to celebrate, I encourage you to embrace your Heavenly Father’s love for you. Allow His unconditional and unfailing love to wash over you completely. No matter what is happening around you know you can rest safe and secure in His perfect love.
     If God did not withhold His one and I only precious Son Jesus from you; why would He withhold anything good from you?(Romans8:32).
     Whatever you need today call out to your Heavenly Father and freely receive from Him. Thank Him for His wisdom, His provisions, His healing and anything else you need. He will not only supply your need, but He promises to supply exceedingly, abundantly and above all you can ask or think (Romans 3:20).
     May you know how truly loved and blessed you are today. Enjoy your family and allow the joy of the Lord to fill your heart.
     Rest in Me, My child. Give your mind a break from planning and trying to anticipate what will happen. Pray continually, asking My Spirit to take charge of the details of this day. Remember you are on a journey with Me. When you try to peer into the future and plan for every possibility, you ignore your constant  Companion who sustains  you moment by moment. As you gaze anxiously into the distance, you don’t even feel the strong grip of My Hand holding yours. Remembrance of Me is a daily discipline. Never lose sight of My Presence with you. This will keep you resting in Me all day, every dayDiscipline by definition: although reference to punishment is in the definition, true discipline was intended to be an activity, exercise, or regimen that develops and or improves a skill, training, a branch of instruction or learning. 
     Regimen by definition by definition: intended to preserve health or to attain some result. 
     So how do we being imperfect and living in an imperfect world discipline as it was truly intended. When we begin to initiate choices and consequences. Helping children chose by choice being the motivation rather than fear of punishment and or embarrassment.
      Subject: In becoming concerned with  some things happening in our schools where children are concerned and in understanding also some of the things every one faces I have addressed some concerns to the school board and offered possible solutions to ending the problem or dealing more effectively whether they consider this or not I do believe some will and I know if parents have ways to also help their child when they come home from school and have been in situations that has remained unresolved then they also can feel more confident in helping their child.
    I understand we are all imperfect and live in an imperfect world and I also recognize no matter what position people are in we all are equal not that everyone feels that way and I recognize we all often face the same problems and desire effective ways in dealing with it. As parents we want our children to begin to stop and think for themselves and believe in themselves and have that confidence. 
     Children are at a disadvantage because they are not aware of adults struggles as we are of their problems. When they become angry or insecure their emotions are on display for the whole world to see. But when adults become angry or insecure or frustrated, those feelings are often hidden. Or worse, children easily see adults, emotions but they are not allowed to discuss their reaction to it. This leaves the child with negative feelings of differentness that ultimately increases irritability. Children need openness and honesty with their authority figures if they are to develop emotional composure and this openness should not be a one way window into the child’s feelings. By defining anger as the emotion of self-preservation of your worth, needs and convictions, it is easier to detect your moments of vulnerability to it. Taking a deep breath and letting it out slow can help disperse the initial anxiety and recognize our times to take a step back, time out and to re-focus.
     Let choices and consequences shape the child.
    Authority figures can be impatient for our children to learn lessons. For example, if a child is rude or disruptive to a sibling we want the child to stop behaving so intolerably. So what do we do? We tell the child to stop behaving so intolerably. So what do we do? We tell the child how to think. We give lectures and follow up with threats. And how does this affect the child? He or she becomes angrier and inwardly vows that no one will tell him or her what to do. It is not the instruction itself that the child is angry about, it is the fact that the adult is not letting the child have choices. 
     In one of her early counseling sessions she revealed how she typically succumbed to ineffective responses when her 10 year old daughter would whine about something trivial. For example, she commonly gripped about not having enough to wear or having anything to do to fill her free time. Her mothers  typical response would be, ” how can you possibly think those things? Your closet is full of clothes and the cabinet has more games in it than you will ever play! You can not say you have got it bad.”
     When we say that it doesn’t get the desired response but more anger. Our mistake is trying to think for our children. Rather than doing the mental work for them, let them choose for themselves how they will handle their tension. For example, when they say they have nothing to wear to school, let them know they can select whatever is in their closet. Then be quiet and allow her choices to unfold.
“But if we take  that, they might make a poor choice. I  am not going to let her go to school looking totally inappropriate.”
   I can appreciate your concern, although I caution against being too finicky about the choices you will allow. Children need the experience of struggling with their emotions. Right now their decisions are relatively harmless, but ten years from now when she is living on their own, they will need to know how to sift through opinions about more complex matters and make better the best choice. Now is the best time for them to develop strategies for managing their emotions. 
    Children need to feel competent manage their own anger. With that in mind, parents can toss the ball into their court by asking questions such as. ” what do you think can be done about this? Or what opinions do you have? In this way the parent communicates confidence in the child. 
” Let’s take a common situation and I will show you what I mean. Let’s assume a child complains her brother or sister is being rude to him or her. They come whining to you about the problem, prompting you to grope for ways to solve their tension. Is that fairly common scenario in your home. 
    “All too common, so and so can really make life miserable when one sibling is on a foul mood.”
     “It is at times like this when your will be tempted to think for them. So let’s be careful about deciding how you will respond. Normally, you might say, “Well, just stay away from your brother or sister and quit fighting.” right?  “Right. It does not usually work, but you’ve got me pegged.”
    “Well, let’s try a different approach, one that encourages them to take greater responsibility for their emotions. Throw the problem back into their lap by telling them, “I see you are feeling frustrated because your sibling shows you no respect. What options do you have to manage this frustration? They may continue whining but do not take the bait; instead tell them, “this won’t be an easy problem to solve, but you always have choices. You can argue back and forth, you can hold a grudge, you can go to a different part of the house. Which choice makes the most sense to you?” “keep putting it back into their lap.” “what if they choose to go back and continue fighting or screaming?” “let them know that is, indeed, an option, but it carries a consequence, perhaps no play for the rest of the afternoon. They will soon learn to pick a different option.”
    To teach our child to handle their anger correctly, we adults must model healthy communication. A child responds more to the tone of the message than to the message itself.
   Using choices and consequences can be more time consuming for parents than merely telling the child what to do. But the child becomes more responsible and begins to think about the direction of his or her emotions. It causes a child to learn how to become who they want to be. Ultimately, children learn to become an initiator of healthy behavior rather than just one who lives according to someone else’s dogma. It teaches children they can find solutions to solve their situation rather than depending on someone else to solve it. It will give them confidence in other situations in how to resolve problems or situations. 
    Our greatest impact on people is not in the words we speak but in the way we deliver those words. Our manner can convey many unspoken messages about our respect and trust for the other person and about our confidence in ourselves. When we speak too strongly it implies disrespect, lack of trust and personal insecurity.” when we speak to children respectfully, even in disagreements, we diffuse the reason for anger.
    When perfectionism, selfishness, impatience and petty preferences take a backseat to respect, encouragement and empathy relationships flourish and become healthy stepping stones to maturity.
     The children who are referred to as bullies, as long as we see any child as anything else but a child who needs help in certain areas at times we do not see the child but only the problem we can’t solve and the ability to relate to that child becomes impaired.
    Parents have often told their children when having a problem they can’t handle talk to the teacher on duty. So when a child approaches any teacher with a problem if they are first assessing by throwing the ball into the their court as to what have you done to find a solution and at that point where you may need to approach the other child you must realize they will already be experiencing feelings of being in trouble. Telling the other child to stay away from the child go to a different area etc. is not often recognizing they have already done that. 
    So upon approaching the child in seeing and understanding they are already afraid you can affirm to the child they are not in trouble and you can see they are having a hard time I struggle is there anything they can do to solve the problem, by throwing the ball back into their court helping them to realize they don’t need us to solve their problems they are capable of thinking of solutions and allow them the opportunity to do that. Asking them what options do you have and choices. By realizing the child just needs to be guided into how to solve their particular situation, you diffuse any animosity the child would have toward the other child and feel relaxed enough to process his own ideas and options.
    By giving children choices you respect the fact that they are children who haven’t yet mastered the art if healthy choices and or communication bu inspires a belief in them that they can choose better ways which in turn builds their self-esteem.
    Principals and teachers who like parents face challenges that in being handled effectively produce an  atmosphere where students are comfortable to learn.
    Even the choice in being sent to the office can be a choice presented that the child makes. If you continue it is your choice then to see the principal and allow them the choice in composing themselves.  Should they be sent to the office the principal then can address the situation from a stand you are not in trouble and i can see you are having a hard time, what do you think you can do about this? What choices do you want to make? Etc. In a class room what does this say to the child and the other children it affirms choices and consequences they all have. 
    When any authority has begun to address the situation and  it is handed over to another individual if what has begun in effectiveness in continued by the other person in position to diffuse the child it becomes even more effective. Why their aren’t mixed messages every one is on the same page so to speak. 
    When any child is approached in understanding how they are feeling they begin to relax and no longer feel threatened. But to not understand a child experiences many emotions when they have handles things wrong is not to be able to empathize with where they ate at emotionally or mentally.
    Once that has been addresses a tense child will begin to relax. And once the child is relax initiating and encouraging them to solve their situation thinking what they can do to solve it and what do they think they could do etc. allows the child to regain confidence in themselves and builds their self-esteem which if understood by the adult is part of the problem.
    Not by demanding the child answer your question but recognizing they are thinking about what is being said and if you look past some of their body indicators you will see they are actually thinking and listening. And recognizing it is only an opportunity to present an atmosphere for an opportunity to learn even if it is how to handle things differently that ultimately will create an environment for children to learn and grow.
    As for respect no matter what position I am in I understand that position doesn’t entitle me to respect but rather my actions and how I treat people will earn me respect true respect.
    Respect is something a person earns. When the issue isn’t I need someone to respect me and show me respect but rather what can I do to lesson potential tension and stresses for individuals who took jobs and positions and parents because they want to teach help and instruct, the respect I feel for myself surpasses any need for others. I become willing to earn respect and understand it is because of things not handled right earning some peoples and children’s respect and or trust takes time and I am willing to take and give that.
    And once again throwing the ball back into the child’s court will enable them or any one to catch and like all things there are always fumbles and when we encouragement is re-applied their catching ability will be mastered and for myself personally there is no greater reward nothing can compare.
    When all authority figures reinforce this you will begin to see what once was a problem now become welcome opportunities. And when everyone respects others contributions and importance of working hand in hand we once again will have opened lines of communication in healthier ways.
   If it becomes a blame game in any situation it is the child who ultimately suffers and believing the desire of everyone is learning how to be effective in healthy ways I come from a place of understanding everyone’s position and true desire.
    We can learn from these little ones and when they come up with ideas we as adults can encourage them gosh I never thought of that, that is an excellent idea and thank them for their input.
    Children are the future generation and when I personally run into a problem it is in recognizing my desire isn’t being accomplished then I seek the better of best avenues different ways of dealing with present situations. 
    And how do I approach people many times through letters it is in respecting the child first and foremost and all authorities in their life in respecting difficulties experiences by many that they encounter but also to address concerns in facts without jumping the gun. Giving everyone opportunity to change and once again with empathy that others may not recognize I am capable of but whether recognized or not isn’t my goal but more to present information to places that may be in need of it in becoming aware of things actually hearing what is being said.
     With this I thank you for your time hoping this gives people a new hope for the following year where it can be anticipated with confidence restoring people so they can effectively apply and re-enforce healthy choices and consequences.
In Christ,
Linda Diana Mullin
P. S.
     We all laugh, we love, we hope, we try, we need, we fear, and we cry; in this we all aren’t different after all. We are all imperfect and live in an imperfect world and we all desire and can seek change and can make a difference right where we are sometimes one step at a time, one after the other building a community that makes a change that others begin to see. Whether alone or together we can reach those in our path.

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