An innocent man had been beaten, taunted, and mocked. The very hands that washed feet, welcomed the children, healed the sick, showed love to the outcast and performed miracles were now pierced with thick nails. Every breath he took was agony as he undeservedly hung from that wooden cross, yet in His moment of excruciating pain he selflessly cried out, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34
He was thinking of others. That kind of selflessness is exactly what I pray for my boys. In a world that applauds self-centeredness, how do we teach our boys to think of others first?
1. Say NO Our children do not need the latest and greatest electronics or toys. It’s ok to say no to the worldly things they think they need. Children today need less of what they can hold in their hands and more of what they can hold in their hearts. Teach them about being grateful and content with what they have. Except for a few rare occasions we only buy toys for our boys on their birthdays. And even then it is pretty minimal. If you have older children don’t feel bad if you have to say no to a child going to camp, concert, amusement park or any other place. If the funds aren’t there or if you have another reason they can’t go, it’s ok. They will live! I know as parents we want to see our children happy or have the things that we didn’t have. But if we give into their every want they will start to have a self-centered attitude. Things that were once treats will soon become expectations. The world and your finances do not revolve around them and their desires.
2. Look for opportunities to meet others’ needs More than anything I want my children to be sensitive to the needs of others and to act on those needs. I try to every day at some point say, “Let’s look and listen for ways that we can be a helper to someone today.” While at a clothing store last week my oldest son who is 4 went up to one of the employees who was hanging up clothes and asked if she needed any help. It was heart melting. You can make meals for new moms or other people that may need it, babysit your friend’s children, take soup to someone that is sick, give food to the homeless man on the corner or mow a neighbor’s yard. At Christmas time instead of letting your child peruse the toy aisle or toy magazine dreaming of what they want for Christmas, walk the toy aisle and have them pick out a toy for a family that is less fortunate.
3. Serve others first My oldest son is already about to eat us out of house and home. He is always hungry. When I am making a meal he is in the kitchen with me waiting for me to place the food on a plate before placing it on the table. He wants to grab the first plate I serve and start eating it. But almost every time I hand him that first plate I say ,“Luke, we always serve others first. Hand this plate to your brother.” The first few times we did this, he cried. He was so hungry and wanted the plate of food. But even in his time of need and want, I wanted him to be aware that he’s not the only hungry one. He has a younger brother who is just as hungry as he is and we need to serve him first.
These are just a few practical ways to instill an attitude of selflessness and help our boys become less self-centered. Whatever their age you can always find ways to serve others and put others first. Being selfless needs to be a way of life and celebrated in your family.
Father, In a world that is all about self, help my boys be all about others. Give them a heart that serves others, loves others, and thinks of others better than themselves. Make their hearts sensitive to the needs of others. Make them more like You. In Your Name, Amen.
1. Taking into consideration the ages of your boys, what are some ways that you can help your boys become less self-centered and become more focused on the needs of others?
2. Who in your son’s life has needs that he can help meet?