Empowering Our Kids Against Addiction: Part 4 – Living A Life Of Service To Others
As we begin looking at how cultivating a life of service to others guards our teens against the allure of addiction, let me tell you why I chose this image to illustrate the point: Facebook reminded me yesterday that this is what happened two years ago. My family and I moved into a new home. And some real friends came over to “help.” I put that word in quotes because it wasn’t help, so much as it was literally, emotionally, and spiritually carrying the heaviest part of the load for us. And while the ladies worked just as hard as the men, this is the snapshot that captures for me the amazing gift of service we received that day. After the heavy lifting was done and all the stuff was somewhere inside our new home, these fathers and sons put together our beds for us. They knew we were exhausted in every way (there’s a whole other story behind that), and they knew my wife, my son, and I would be blessed by a comforting night of sleep in our beds in our new bedrooms…before diving into the process of unpacking and all that entails. So they assembled the bunk beds my son had at that time, and then they painstakingly assembled our master bed. It was a profound gift of loving service that I will never forget.
Parents and their teens…serving someone together. Such a powerful and impactful experience. But it doesn’t just impact the ones being served. It shapes the character and lifts the spirits of those doing the serving. It reminds the servant that he isn’t the only one in life with challenges, stresses, and struggles. It puts life in perspective. And it usually brings a deep sense of fulfillment and joy. Something in our spirits recognizes and affirms in moments of serving that this is what we were made to do. We feel our best when we are blessing others. It is when we are most clearly living in the nature of our Creator. And it gives our minds and hearts a tune-up. Every time. Because life is better for all of us on this planet when we consider one another, love one another, and serve one another.
Addiction sucks away the best part of our lives. It convinces us our lives are about pleasing ourselves, rather than serving our neighbors. And the more we pursue personal pleasure through the avenue of addiction, the more empty and unfulfilling our lives actually become. Addiction throws lives totally out of balance. In contrast, serving others brings our lives into balance, yielding a far deeper and more rewarding experience of purpose and joy than any form of immediate gratification can ever offer.
And the best way we can train our kids to live lives of service to others is to take them with us to serve. The more we are engaged in serving those around and within our homes, the more our teens and even younger children will do the same. I’m not talking about being so consumed with taking care of everyone else that we rob our families of the presence and service we should be sharing with them. But we do very well to stay alert and ready to do good for others. And we do our kids a great service in the process!
Want to guide your teens on the path away from addiction? Challenge them to serve others. Invite them to serve others. Take them to serve others. Recognize and encourage them when you see them serving others. Thank them when they serve you. Deliberately connect with others who are serving. Build family friendships with those who live to serve others. Celebrate the blessings you see in the lives of others as a result of acts of service. Get involved in a church that genuinely serves and makes a difference wherever possible. Get involved in other volunteer organizations that facilitate serving others in truly meaningful ways. Bless your neighbors on your street and living nearby with generous acts of kindness and service. Invite others into your home and serve them abundantly. In fact, hospitality is a particularly powerful form of service. When you practice hospitality, make sure you invite and expect your kids to be just as involved in preparations and attending service as you are. Model for your teens that no matter where you are, you are never above serving someone else – regardless of their position or yours. Model this way of life for them. Invite them into this way of life, alongside you. And the invasive roots of addiction will have a very difficult time growing in the soil of their spirits. Because a vibrant garden will already be well established in their lives. Now, let’s get to planting, weeding, and pruning!