I have a saying I use daily. My girls tire of it, but it is one of those things I want them to believe with everything in them.
Haven't we all met a kid who is bent on getting their way? Don't you find that quality completely unpleasant? I do. I don't want my girls to be pushing their way to the front of the line or clamoring for all the attention. I want them to be patient and kind. I want them to let others go first and even help them along rather than "looking out for number one."
Jesus told his disciples in Mark 9:35, "If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all." I want each of my girls to have a servant's heart. I want them to be able to see the needs of others. And not just see the needs, but meet those they are able to meet.
It goes beyond holding doors for others and giving up our seats in a waiting room. Those things are easy and cost us very little. It's about understanding that those around us may have difficulties we cannot see. They may be hurting or struggling in some area. Maybe their struggle is loneliness and they could use a friendly face to talk to. Maybe they feel overwhelmed by their circumstances and need someone to come alongside them and help carry their load. Whatever the need, I want our family to be sensitive to others and serve them in ways that would be a blessing to them.
It all starts by teaching our kids that others matter. People are important. Relationships are important. Stuff is not. Being first is not. Getting our way is not. I have found nothing more satisfying, even for a child, than meeting a need for someone else. Acts 20:35 tells us "it is more blessed to give than to receive."
So back to my frequent saying. Consideration is everywhere and if we look around we will find someone to consider. It takes a while. It doesn't come naturally. My girls all came with a high sense of self-preservation, after all, they had to in order to survive. It was a hard habit to break. But the satisfaction and joy they now find in meeting the needs of others makes those days seem long since past. It was a battle. It required constant reminders to take their eyes off of themselves and put them on those around them. Whether it was a small act of service to help a sister complete a chore, heading over to the neighbor's house to pick up sticks, or spending a Saturday night watching the Gospel station with a widow, our family has learned that service is a lifestyle. It's putting others before ourselves.
If you feel like your kids are spending too much time focused on themselves, give them something else to focus on. Start helping them really look at those around them. Start finding ways to serve as a family. You'll find your kids more pleasant and that it really is more blessed to give.