Teaching Your Kids to Serve Starts at Home

“If serving is below you, leadership is beyond you” — Anonymous. This quotation provides a powerful glimpse at the price of admission required to enter the ranks of leadership. If you desire to have influence at work and home; (and you should), prepare to serve. This following principle is critical to understand.

Genuine leadership is ALWAYS born out of the service of others.

Serving others can be a curious thing. What emotions does reading the word “serve” evoke for you? Is it a sense of excitement, dread, or nervousness? Maybe you’re filled with feelings of duty and responsibility. In my experience, it’s easy for men to get caught up in the idea that serving others means engaging in some grand, out-of-the-norm activity. Even now, you may be thinking about a mission trip to Africa, or helping to build homes for those in need (both of which are great options). But, what about serving a little closer to home?

Let’s say, specifically, serving your wife and kids. Do you treat them with the same level of importance as “real serving opportunities?” Perhaps you’re like me. I could get home from a 15-hour day at work and gladly head right back out to help a buddy move the family piano down from the third floor of his house. “That’s what friends are for,” I would tell my wife. However, if she were to ask me to take out the garbage or clean the kitchen at the end of a long work day, it’s unlikely I’d respond with the same vigor. Raise your hand if you’ve ever sighed and uttered the words, “I’m tired…I’ve been working all day… I just need a break.” While all those things may be true, they don’t preclude you from choosing to respond positively to the request.

Remember, your actions are setting the bar for your kids’ behavior. If you want to raise children that serve others with humility, you must first do the same. And, while I’m all for broader based serving opportunities, it’s the daily acts of service in your home that will have the greatest influence on your children’s developing character. I’ve outlined below 3 simple strategies for improving your level of service at home.

  • Serve Intentionally: Be proactive! Look for opportunities to serve the ones you love. In my example, I wasn’t required to wait for my wife to make the garbage request. The opportunity to serve was always available. I could have identified a need and met it. Instead, I decided to turn our garbage can into a life-sized game of Jenga by precariously balancing empty milk jugs on top of old cereal boxes.
  • Serve Gratefully: We work hard to teach our girls to “respond positively to directions.” We expect that they’ll act on a request the first time we ask and with a positive, grateful attitude. The truth is, they do a pretty amazing job most of the time. Their dad on the other hand…he’s a work in progress. Don’t blow the chance to serve your family well by doing so begrudgingly or with a poor attitude.
  • Serve Often: How often…daily, hourly, by the minute? The answer is yes. Just like your kids, the goal is to make serving an integral part of your character. If you want your skills in this area to increase make the choice to practice serving regularly.

Your influence is tied to your leadership, and your leadership is tied to your willingness to serve others. This concept is especially true at home, with your family. Make decisions starting today to intentionally, gratefully, and frequently serve your family. Remember, you are a good man — love your family and serve them well.


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