I had the good fortune of being raised in a Christian home and family. There are tremendous advantages that can be gained by living in the environment of a good Christian home. However; not all good Christian practices and customs are engrained in a person by mere observation.
My parents were very committed to and active in their Church. They were true disciples and lived a life of service to Jesus Christ and to whomever had a need. Their service to others included providing accommodations, giving of money, sharing food and sharing, (within reason) whatever was needed. They also served very diligently in all the various activities that make up church congregational life.
Growing up I observed all the various acts of giving and service. As a result, over time, it seemed natural to me that this was the sort of way that a Christian should live their life (a life of sharing and service to others). However; as I observed this wholesome example it developed in me as a sort of a legalistic approach (giving and serving with no heart). By the time I was in my late teens I really had no interest in Christianity. I was, at this time unfaithful to my savior Jesus Christ.
I was very fortunate that in my early twenties I dated a serious Christian woman and we were eventually married. She dragged me to worship on Sunday for several years and I just went along with whatever. I was not antagonistic towards Christianity, but I was by no means committed and hadn’t really bought in.
Fortunately, we met a few fine Christian families. One man in particular, from a Christian and general life perspective, had a significant influence on me. He became my friend. He showed me that it was possible to be a Christian and still function as a very successful professional business man in a large multinational oil and gas company. Up to this point I had been trying to live a double life – part in the world and part “not in” the Church. He taught me that I was not compelled to do all the things other people wanted me to do. He showed me that I could live a Christian life and have fun (that it was not necessary to be involved in all the things people who were not Christians do).
Most importantly, he taught me that there can be a tremendous feeling of joy in really serving Jesus Christ by doing the things he asks us to do. I realized it is possible to receive a tremendous feeling of joy, accomplishment and satisfaction by doing acts of service for others who may be or may not be less fortunate than me.
My parents and others had very adequately taught me things that I should do. However; they never expressed to me the joy and satisfaction that can come to an individual through serving Jesus Christ by serving others. It was not that they didn’t experience this but rather that they never expressed it to me (probably because of humility – the old case of “damned if you do and damned if you don’t). My parents were really good, faithful Christian people. They did the best they could considering the hand they were dealt—–me.
Once I realized the fact of joy, doing acts of service became much easier for me. This did not happen over night but through several years. The acts of service do not always turn out the way I hope There are times when I feel rebellious about things and don’t want to do them. However; I have most assuredly experienced the joy and satisfaction of helping others and being a servant to others and thus being a servant to Jesus Christ.
My two points of advice to parents of young(er) children are: (1) make sure you are modelling for your children a life of service to others, and (2) make sure your children understand that there is tremendous joy and satisfaction that comes from being a servant to others which really is serving Jesus Christ.