The Secret to Compassionate Kids
We live in Atlanta. That's the deep south of the United States and although we have four distinct seasons, the cold ones are pretty short and the heat comes back quickly. Sometimes, as Atlantans like to complain about, the cold and hot days are hard to predict and might flip flop back and forth for a few weeks. So, one day you walk out the door in a sweater and winter coat only to be sweating by noon. Other days you wake up and put on sandals because you remember the gorgeous temperatures of the day before. Alas, before you make it to your car, you've run back into the house to put on boots.
Such was last week. I knew we needed some outdoor play because it was supposed to snow the next day (which is quite a big deal in these here parts). As we ran around outside, we saw a field absolutely filled with daffodils! The kids were heartbroken that it was going to snow on the flowers and were sure they would all die. So, they picked them instead!
We took home two huge two-handed bouquets and spent several minutes arranging them in mason jars when we got home. Then, someone said, "Wouldn't it be fun to surprise our neighbors with these flowers?" One of them responded, "Yeah! We could leave the flowers on their doorstep, knock on the door and then run away!" So, instead of placing the flowers around our house, we bundled up enough mini bouquets for all the folks in our apartment building and secretly delivered them.
My kids were so excited you would have thought they were delivering 100 dollar bills! It was more fun to deliver the daffodils than to keep them and admire them in our own home.
When I saw where there little hearts were headed, I wanted to make it count. Before we walked out the door to deliver our secret bouquets, we prayed for the people that would receive them. We asked that they would see God the Creator in each flower. We asked that it would be a reminder of an Easter memory from their childhood. We prayed that even if the daffodils didn't say "Jesus Loves You", that the Holy Spirit would speak to them anyway and plant a seed or bring up a memory so they would know that truth.
It was a simple prayer and a simple activity done by normal kids. My kids aren't super-missionaries in their own land. They aren't exceptionally compassionate. They are normal kids who love getting the latest toy, watching more TV than they should and pouring over toy catalogs.
What they don't know is that same week I had been praying that my children would be compassionate. I had just read Uncommon Kids: 12 Biblical Traits You Need to Raise Selfless Kids by Sami Cone earlier that month and with it came a little monthly calendar with a prayer prompt on it. This month's prayer trait was Compassion: World. So, every time I saw that calendar while I did the dishes I'd pray, "God, make my children compassionate to the world around them. Help them see the world as you do." Or maybe it wasn't even that eloquent, "Lord, help 'em be compassionate." was probably more like it.
God answered my quick prayers in a simple yet obvious way. I don't know why I'm always surprised when God answers my prayers! It was a reminder for me to rely on prayer. If I want to see growth in my children, if I want to help these American kids have missional eyes, it's not so much about making them give and serve. I can ask God to move on their hearts. When God moves on their hearts to give and serve and love, it's a double lesson because they are practicing how to listen and respond to the voice of the Lord!
Family Activity: Write COMPASSION on a sticky note and put it somewhere you will see it every day. When you do see it, pray for your children to have compassion on the people in their world. When God answers your prayer, encourage your kids--remind them they heard the voice of the Lord!
Amanda White is a stay-at-home mom of two who blogs at ohAmanda.com and is the author of Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands. In her former life, Amanda was a Children’s Pastor — overseeing, organizing and developing ministry for kids in nursery through middle school, but now that she is a mom, her “skills” are used up on her kids!
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