“Would you like to help me clean these up?” I asked a first-grade girl in children’s church.
She looked at the mess of papers on the floor. “No. Do it yourself.” She spun on her heel and strode away.
I collected the papers by myself, hiding my surprise at her response. In my experience, most kids are eager to help the teacher.
Perhaps you’ve encountered similar behavior from students or your own children or grandchildren. With Thanksgiving this month, I thought about the connection between thankfulness and a willingness to serve others. I found that Psalm 54:6 speaks of thankfulness to God as well as a willingness to give an offering to him. Then in Romans, after finishing a psalm of praise and thankfulness for God’s great mercy, Paul reminds believers to offer themselves as a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1). He goes on to describe how the body of Christ functions by serving each other. I concluded that one way we can show our thankfulness to God is by serving others.
But how can we teach our students that serving can be rewarding and God-honoring when it’s done with a thankful heart? Here are a few ideas you could use with your students (young and old) to help them experience thankful service.
As in most other things we teach, practice is necessary to learn how to serve and how to notice the needs around us. Be sure to encourage your students by thanking them whenever you see them doing acts of service, especially outside of class. Most of all, keep reminding them that serving others is not only obedience to God, but is also a great way to show God how thankful we are for all he’s done.