Thinking beyond ourselves
Happy Monday! I hope you had a great weekend. Ours was spent going on a family hike at Garden of the Gods park, taking the kids to a giant pumpkin/vegetable contest, spending lazy time on our back deck together in the great weather, and cleaning out/organizing our garage, among other things. It was great family time and I must admit, I was a bit was sad when Monday morning arrived. But, alas – the new week begins and with it, comes a new post about another value I want to be part of our family culture.
Sixth value: being others-focused
In a society where we are told to work on our own self-esteem, do what makes us happy, and, well, basically that it’s all about us, it can be hard to be others-focused. It’s ironic that we are fed those messages, because – hey, let’s admit that it comes pretty naturally to think about ourselves and be selfish. We really don’t need all that much encouragement to do so. Even the Bible tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves, because God knew that we easily focus on ourselves in the way we need to be focusing on others. However, the Bible also says that the greatest two truths we are to follow in life are to love God and love others. Because of this (and because, quite frankly, life isn’t all that great when I make it just about me), I desire that my kids, my husband, and I learn more about focusing on others. I am not saying that we shouldn’t take good care of ourselves or take time for ourselves where we need it, but I am saying that our attitudes and hearts should be focused more on others than merely looking out for our own self-interests. Below, I have listed some ways to focus on people outside of your home, but it would also be good to think about how to intentionally love and bless those right inside your own house (much like Elijah in the picture below, where he is sharing some of his beloved muffin with his sister!).
Practical ways for me to encourage this value:
- Every week, talk with Elijah about who we could do something kind for – let him be a part of the decision-making process. Then, do something like taking baked goods, a hot cup of coffee, or a pumpkin (think seasonal!) to a friend or someone we know (or even who we don’t really know) who needs to be encouraged or who we just want to “love on.”
- Encourage Elijah (and Abigail, eventually) to ask other people questions. I have a friend who recently encouraged her 2.5 year-old to ask me what my favorite color was (we had been talking about colors). I loved how she steered her daughter on to think about others – what a great idea! We also have been teaching and encouraging Elijah to ask people “how are you?” when he talks to them on the phone or when we are together with other friends.
- Think about, and bless the people who serve you, many who probably rarely get thanked. We enjoy when we get to greet our “Mailman Mark” and receive the mail from him. Someday, I would like to have Elijah draw him a picture and then help him tape it on the mailbox (maybe I should check and see if that’s illegal first?) or leave him a Starbucks giftcard to let him know we’re thankful for the way he serves us. I’d also love to do the same thing for our garbage men – they are the kindest garbage guys I’ve ever met! However, even if they weren’t, I would still want us to think about how we can bless them, because we are called to love others, period. Not if and when we think they deserve it, but period.
What a great challenge, huh? This is a subject that gets me pretty excited and I could go on and on about it, but will stop here. However, I would like to know how you and your family intentionally bless others – leave me a comment and share with the rest of us! (And ahem, you may want to get used to making comments here because, sometime this week, I just may or may not have a giveaway which will require you to leave a comment to enter. I’m just sayin’ … ;))