Thursday, January 15, 2009

Do Unto Others

As a parent with several children, I spend a lot of time working on how people are to interact with others. As a parent who is in the process of raising little Christians or servants of God, I have to focus some on the practical side of teaching them how to serve God and others. Next to having a personal relationship with God, the way Christians actively love or serve others ought to be one of our main identifying characteristics.

God has been using a number of circumstances lately to remind me that putting others first is very important. While many Christians will agree with that, I think that we easily slip into putting ourselves first and from there it's easy to teach our children to put themselves first, by example, if nothing else. I can think of cases where we have done that.

Sometimes we teach our kids using the 'put yourself in their shoes' line of thought. But sometimes it's a little off. Some use this one: "I wouldn't want to have to do that, so I won't require my children to do that." Sharing a new toy, for instance. We might think, I wouldn't want to have to share something I JUST got when I'm really wanting to play with it so I won't require that they do it. Giving up something, anything, we feel entitled to for the sake of someone else is something that we sometimes struggle with. How we feel about it varies according to how much we want it ourselves. You see, WE are selfish by nature and if we gauge what we and our children should do by what we WANT to do, we'll be way off base. If you're going to use the 'put yourself in someone else's shoes' line, it should be approached from the receiving end. Often we might not want to give or put ourselves out for the sake of someone else, but wouldn't we so appreciate it if someone got something brand new that we really wanted to check out/ look at/ try and they gave it up for a bit just so we could try it and did it with an attitude that indicates they are really glad to share with you?!

Hospitality is built on this idea of putting the comfort and needs of someone else at the top of your list. Not making them feel like their visit or whatever you're doing for them is a burden to you but instead making them feel you're just delighted to have them or to be able to do something for them and you're not thinking about how to avoid mess, work or trying to figure out ways to profit off of their presence. If people get the feeling that you're anxious to avoid the mess their visit will produce or that you're terribly busy and their "intrusion" is taking up your valuable time or whatever, they'll simply come away feeling bad, NOT feeling blessed by you.

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