By Guest Blogger Diane Stortz
Anyone who coaches team sports or manages a team at work understands the sentiment found in Psalm 133:1: “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” Whether the goal is a winning season or bringing a product to market, the effort required will always yield better results when team members like and respect one another and focus together on getting the job done.
Our families need that same kind of unity—the shared sense of being a team, of being for one another as well as focused on the same goals. Like a healing balm, a family’s spirit of teamwork soothes irritations big and small, fills daily life with smiles and laughter, and helps children feel loved, valued, and needed—important foundations for becoming productive, mature adults.
How can you foster a team spirit in your family? Talking and listening to one another and spending time planning, working and having fun together are key. So is appreciating and supporting each person’s talents and interests. But one often overlooked way to build teamwork in your family is serving others together. Children who regularly participate with their parents in activities that serve others soon develop a strong family identity. They understand that “this is who we are; this is what we do.”
Making Service a Family Project
Some of us find it easy to join organized opportunities to serve—sorting donations for disaster relief, packing meals for foreign distribution, setting up classrooms for vacation Bible school, raking leaves for seniors or single mothers in the fall, sprucing up the playground at a local park, and hosting international college students at Thanksgiving or Christmas. Others look for more individual ways to assist others—cooking and delivering a meal for someone home from the hospital, driving an elderly neighbor to an appointment, visiting a relative in a nursing home, and sending cards with handwritten notes. Whatever it is you do to serve others, find ways to make it a family project.
My daughter Sheila volunteers with an organization that serves refugee women and their families. When her children were younger, they went with her to pick up one of the women who came to English classes, and they played with the all the refugees’ children during class time. Sheila scours thrift stores for backpacks and handbags that her children fill with toiletry items and snacks. They keep the bags in the car and offer them to homeless men and women they encounter as they drive around town.My daughter Bethany volunteers as a training and running partner in a program that serves men and women in alcohol and drug rehabilitation. Her young children understand why she spends Saturday mornings away from home several months a year, and they cheer for her and all the runners when race day finally arrives. As a family, they send monthly financial support for a child in Kenya, and the children participate in sending him letters and gifts and remembering him in prayer.
Grow Your Family Bond
Three teenagers in an Ohio family that makes serving together a habit were asked, “Why do you think it’s important for your family to serve together?” They answered, “It brings us together and unites us as a team for God. . . . God calls us to be unified and to serve, so it’s important to obey. . . . We show unity as a family for Jesus Christ.” Asked what’s most fun about serving as a family, their mom replied, “Catching each other’s eyes and seeing the joy and love of God shining in each other as we serve Jesus.”
How are you serving others right now? Is there something new you’ve been wanting to do? If your children are old enough, ask them how they would like to help. Their ideas might surprise you, but be ready with some suggestions too. And then begin your family’s journey toward a deeper bond, based on the shared joy of serving others together.
About Diane Stortz
Diane Stortz is a multipublished author who writes to make God’s wonders known to the next generation. Her newest release is Stop-and-Go Devotional: 52 Devotions for Busy Parents, published by Tommy Nelson. Diane and her husband have two married daughters and five young grandchildren—all boys! Visit her at www.DianeStortz.com.