Developing a Servant’s Heart

25 01 2012

A couple weeks ago, I bought a Contributor newspaper from a homeless man on our way home from school.  This is a monthly occurrence, and Caleb is almost always in the backseat when I purchase a paper.  The exchange typically goes something like this:

     Me:  Caleb, quick!  Get my wallet and see if you can find a $5.00.

     Caleb:  Okay!  (fumble, fumble, fumble)  Here!  Did we get it in time?

     Me:  (Rolling down the window and signaling to the vendor) Yes.  Thank you for your help, Caleb.

     Vendor:  Thank you Miss, and God bless!

It’s usually short and sweet, but two weeks ago, the conversation didn’t stop there.

(Caleb is well acquainted with the Contributor and its mission.  The Contributor is a street newspaper that seeks to provide diverse perspectives on homelessness as well as provide the homeless and formerly homeless with a source of income as they sell the papers.)  Our conversation continued:

     Caleb:  I can’t wait till I’m older.  I’m going to buy one of the newspapers every time I see someone selling it.

     Me:  Why wait?

     Caleb:  What do you mean?  I can’t drive.

     Me:  (laughing out loud just a little)  No.  That’s not what I meant.  Why do you have to wait until you’re older before you can help them?

Silence ensued, but I knew a seed had been planted.  The wheels of Caleb’s mind were furiously turning.

     Caleb:  What if we took my giving money and I could buy them a meal?  Or, we could go shopping, and I could buy a bunch of snacks and make a bunch of bags and give them to a bunch of people.

     Me:  I like this idea.  What would you put in the bags?

As we talked the rest of the way home, we settled on the following items for each bag, figuring this was within his budget from his Giving envelope:

  • 1 bottle of water
  • 1 apple
  • 1 travel-sized container of apple sauce
  • 2 granola bars
  • 4 snack-sized candy bars
  • 1 plastic spoon
  • 1 napkin
  • 1 note from Caleb simply saying, “God bless you!”

Caleb was SOOOO excited by the time we got home.  He couldn’t wait to tell his Dad that night or his teacher the next morning.  (I also couldn’t wait to brag on my son to my friends, either.)

We went shopping at both Walmart and Publix.  Caleb was able to double some of his offerings in each bag thanks to Publix amazing BOGOs that week.  Then we set up a little assembly line on our kitchen counter.  When all was said and done, Caleb made 15 bags.

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grocery list and receipts

grocery list and receipts

assembly line

assembly line

working on the assembly line

working on the assembly line

the goodies for each bag

the goodies for each bag

completed bags

completed bags

We handed out the first three bags yesterday on the way to and from school.  To say Caleb was excited is an understatement.  I actually got a little teary-eyed seeing witnessing Caleb’s pure joy when the last guy came back to the van and personally thanked Caleb for blessing him.  Caleb now keeps his eye open for anyone on the side of the road we can help.

Over the past couple of weeks while talking about this and planning it with Caleb as well as sharing about this with others, God has reminded me of a few of my responsibilities as a parent.

It is my duty as a parent, before it is anyone else’s duty, to develop my child’s heart.  

  • If I want my sons to be giving, generous, servant-hearted men, I must model those same attributes for them.  Caleb joins me on just about every volunteer excursion I undertake, from serving meals at the Ronald McDonald House, Hope Lodge, or Safe Haven Family Shelter to dropping off items at Goodwill to bringing food to families with new babies to helping pick out food to donate at school food drives.  I must be willing to give of my time and resources to bless others if I expect my children to do the same.
  • If I want my children to be financially responsible adults, I must set the right example with how I spend my money.  Do we live in debt, or do we purchase only what we can afford to pay for in full with cash?  Do we use our financial resources for selfish gain, or do we choose to honor God by giving back to His kingdom work a portion of what He has given us?  Caleb will be the first to tell you he didn’t initially like the idea of having to stash away some of his money for Saving and Giving.  He will also be the first to tell you now that he’s seen how that money can be used to bless others, he is completely on board with the plan we set up for him. The plan:  Caleb puts $1 away into his Giving Envelope and $1 into his Saving Envelope for each $10 he receives through his allowance, extra chores, or gifts.  Since we began this financial discipline system for him a little over a year ago, he’s amassed about $30 in each.  This was his first major Giving project.  (Read more about How to Train Your Child in the Ways of Financial Discipline.)
  • Developing a servant heart and financial responsibility are not one-time conversations.  Today we discuss the importance of giving and saving as well as spending wisely.  In the years to come those conversations will morph into more complex issues such as balancing checkbooks, whether or not to use credit cards, taxes, etc.  My parents and I still talk about money issues, for which I am very grateful.  The positive example they set for me in my youth is now being passed on to the next generation. 

I am so proud of my son and his developing servant heart.  He thought of this idea on his own, paid for the food with his own money, put together the bags himself, and only needed minimal guidance to bring it to fruition.  I eagerly look forward to his future and what God has in store for his heart.

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
–Proverbs 22:6




2 responses

25 01 2012

Great job! Putting to use both living an example and assisting in the practical. Love it.

25 01 2012

That’s amazing!!! Way to go Caleb, what a sweet boy!!

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