Back at Christmas I hung an Advent calendar I bought to do “Random Acts of Kindness” activities with my daughter. You may be familiar with Random Acts of Kindness that is popular now at Christmastime. A different service activity corresponds with each day of Advent. Search Pinterest and you’ll get more than enough ideas including anything from baking cookies for your neighbors to taping coins to vending machines to making necessity bags for the homeless.
I started off strong with our Random Acts of Kindness activities. For the first two days my daughter chose the number, I read to her the activity for that day, and we completed it.
Then life happened.
How to Cultivate a Servant Heart in Your Daughter
I’ve never been good at keeping up with regimented plans that require daily attention, especially at Christmastime, but everyone was doing Random Acts of Kindness so I felt like I needed to do it too. By the third day I felt defeated, but tried to keep going. However, by the end of the first week defeat turned to feeling overwhelmed, tired, resentful, jealous, and competitive. My heart was far from the intent of Random Acts of Kindness. There was nothing kind about it.
Why am I doing this? What are my true motives? And why do I do these activities with my daughter at Christmas and not any other time of the year?
As I watched moms on social media post pictures of their children doing the activities they’d planned, I thought about the answers to these questions.
After that first week I stopped doing them, and I made a decision that I wouldn’t even start them the next year.
There is nothing wrong with the Random Acts of Kindness trend that Christian moms have adopted during the holidays. It is a good thing during a season that is filled with consumption and self-focus that we teach our girls what Jesus’ words, “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve” (Matthew 20:28), should look like in their lives. But even good things become bad things when they’re not done with motives that glorify God.
As I think about cultivating a servant’s heart in my girls, this is what I want them to learn:
We serve others because Jesus served us.
I want my daughters to develop a servant’s heart because Jesus was a servant (Mark 10:45), not because it’s December, everyone in the mom’s group is doing it, or even social justice says it’s something we ought to do. The only righteous motive for serving others is out of our love for Jesus. Because Jesus loved us enough to be our servant, we glorify Him by being servants to other people.
What you do does not determine who you are.
The enemy whispers to women that we are either not enough or that we are too much. Then we strive to become whatever we’re lacking. Our Pinterest perfect world doesn’t make this any easier. I want my girls to know that they do not have to worry about other women’s approval, and they don’t have to gain God’s approval. We serve God and others not because we are trying to gain something but, again, out of our love for Jesus.
Serving others is a way of life.
Even though serving others looks different during different seasons, it’s not confined to those seasons. We shouldn’t serve others sometimes as if we’re checking a box. Instead we should listen to the Holy Spirit at all times to see how He wants us to serve.
The Holy Spirit is your Guide for serving others.
In our culture it is easy to get wrapped up in trends of works-based activity that seem good, and they may be good for some women, but they’re not necessarily good for every woman. As I teach my daughters to have a servant’s heart, I want them to know that the Holy Spirit is their guide in discerning what service looks like for them.
Having a servant’s heart has nothing to do with what we’re doing and everything to do with what Jesus did for us. Our service is an outflow of our love for Him. Whenever we have feelings of resentment, exhaustion, jealousy, and competitiveness we need to check ourselves to see if we’re really serving from this outflow.
Jesus, thank you coming to earth as a servant. Thank you for serving us by dying on the Cross and resurrecting from the grave so that we can know you now and spend eternity with you in heaven. Please forgive us when our we serve others with motives other than our love for you. Help us to discern how you want us to serve others. Help us teach our girls how to have a servant’s heart from her outflow of love for you.