As I approach the holiday season with my family in mind, I immediately become overwhelmed with the tasks of Christmas. How am I going to afford to buy 3 boys, who have a taste for technology, the things that they want? How am I going to decorate the house while running a business, being a mother and wife and helping my middle school son with his mounting homework? What about Christmas cookies? Family pictures for our Christmas cards? Ordering and sending out Christmas cards? Making plans for Christmas Eve/Day? Helping my boys memorize their scriptures and lines for the Christmas play? And the list goes on... I'm sure you've read a million blog posts about reflecting on the gift of Christ rather that the gifts we are giving for Christmas. Yes, we need to stop and reflect on that baby in the manger. He is the One who we live to serve. But how do we serve Him? How do you serve Him?
After my mini anxiety attack passes and I file the list of things to do in the back of my mind, I'm quickly interrupted by my 3 boys and an argument about who knows what. I'm handed a Christmas list from my 9 year old with a few things that are reasonable and a lot of other things that make me say "over my dead body will you ever get this from me". When did my boys become so entitled? I admit, I am 99.9999999% at fault for allowing them to think this way. Heck, I was the same way at that age. So how do I change my behavior so that they can change their behavior?
It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized that I find an overwhelming sense of joy serving others. Perhaps it's something that has developed within me as I grow as a Christian. Serving others has become something I look forward to and wish I could do more often. As my children become more aware of the needs of others, I strive to help them be more conscious of those needs even if they don't seem obvious. Little things like holding the door open for others, playing peekaboo with a crying baby in line at the grocery store so that the mom can unload the cart, letting someone skip ahead of them in line, and so on. These are the little things I want to become second nature to them. I've begun to include them in some of the personal ways I serve. Some of the jobs I've brought them along on have been met with groans and "do we have to's", but once they're done, they can reflect on Matthew 25:40, remembering why we serve and Who we serve.
Coming back to my thought about Christmas and serving others, I had an epiphany. In trying to remedy the constant arguing between siblings, in my attempt to drown out the "mom, he looked at me funny" or "mooooommmmm, he's breathing to annoy me..." I thought, my boys need to serve each other. This Christmas, they need to serve one another.
I slapped $20.00 down on the counter. "You kids want $20 bucks?" I said. You can imagine the answer I got to that question. I then went on to explain the catch. Every time one of them joyfully, without boasting, serves the other, they get $1.00 added to their total. Once the $20 is spoken for, it's gone and the earned money is divided between the boys. The money that is earned is to be used to buy one of their siblings a Christmas gift (we'll draw names before we shop). So they don't get to keep the money.
Baby steps for now. I am hopeful that someday this lesson will have them joyfully serving others and the less fortunate. They are still young and have a while to grow. Developing a servants heart can take time and wisdom. We want to do it with joy and purpose so that we can be like the One we serve, Matthew 20:28.