Several Sunday mornings ago, I walked in ahead of my crew (my husband and my two 20-year old sons) and paused to say hello to the group of gentlemen that my husband and my sons serve with every Sunday morning as communion and offering ushers. One of the gentlemen stopped me long enough to tell me this (paraphrased):
Your sons are amazing! It is such a special thing that young adult men will serve each and every Sunday, offer themselves, sacrifice their time, to serve others. Their service and faithfulness is truly a blessing. You have grown wonderful young men. You must be so proud of them.
My eyes glistened. What could I say? "Thank you so very much for that encouragement."
You know what?
It wasn't the first time we have been given a compliment or a word of encouragement about the young men we have been raising. When we are tearing our hair out in frustration because they don't seem to be living up to their abilities - or dare I say our expectations - we receive words of affirmation from people who have, or are, living similar roads we are on. They lighten our parenting load.
Sometimes they are simply seeing through clearer eyes. Because our own eyes have become clouded over from home-life frustrations. Our sons aren't being someone different when they leave the home. They are just saving the best parts of themselves for others. They are applying what they've learned to others. Serving outside of the home.
We have taught them to serve others because we have modeled serving others.
Here's what I've learned from this encounter:
1. Lighten someone's parenting load with a word of encouragement; compliment their kid - to them. Make sure it's an honest endorsement but a word of encouragement will give a parent clearer vision, even for a few minutes.
2. Lighten up. You probably are doing it right. It just doesn't always seem like it because, let's face it, kids are, or can be, frustrating creatures.
3. Be a light. Our kids will learn serving when we model service. Serving together is even a more effective lesson. Jeff served as a den leader in Cub Scouts, then, as an Assistant Scoutmaster in Boy Scouts. John and Jarrod followed suit: as Cub scouts and Boy scouts their acts of service were through the roof. Whenever and wherever we served at church or in other areas the boys always came with us and contributed. Jeff served on the traffic team at church and when John and Jarrod were old enough they served with him. When Jeff moved to children's ministry John and Jarrod found ways to serve there, too; each finding their own niche. I'm serving up there now, too, so we are serving together every week. Wherever there is a need, if the boys are available, they'll jump in to meet it - right along side us. John has taken these acts of service into his workplace. His boss told us that John looks out for him, does the hard jobs for him, and doesn't let him overextend himself. John isn't doing it for any other reason then serving his boss and the people he works with and making their job easier, lighting their load.
My one little word this year is LIGHT. I want to see LIGHT, find LIGHT, grow into my word LIGHT. I want to learn about LIGHT. I want LIGHT to change me and to become a LIGHT.