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Teaching Children Service

Karen Heber (c) all rights reserved

As parents, we felt it was very important to teach our children to do service for others. We had taught them about King Benjamin and his sermon where he said: "...when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God." (see Mosiah 2:17) Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, "Service is an imperative for true followers of Jesus Christ." (Oaks, Pure in Heart, Bookcraft 1988, page 37).

It seemed that teaching our children service was part of our parental responsibility in teaching them to be disciples of Christ.

Although we had them perform service in our home and we tried to be good examples by serving others ourselves, we wanted something outside of our family for them to do that they were responsible for. But when we looked for service opportunities, we found it to be a bigger problem than we first thought.

After asking at various places, we learned that twelve was usually the minimum age for a child to be allowed to give service in establishments such as a library. This was a problem for us. Although we had seven children, our oldest was only eight.

So we tried to involve them in service we were doing, such as helping distribute fliers for political campaigns, helping collect money for worthy charities, etc. While these did teach service and gave us the opportunity to talk about being anxiously engaged in good works, still we wanted that regular service in the community for which they were responsible and could see the good their service did.

The solution to our problem came quite unexpectedly. One weekday, we found ourselves arriving at the church building just as the custodians had finished cleaning. I took a few minutes to talk to them and learned that because of a limited time schedule, the custodians were not able to clean as thoroughly as they wanted. As they explained the membership involvement program to us, I realized this was something we could do as family. We received permission and began the next week.

We now go every Monday to our church house. We pick up trash, vacuum, wash chalk boards and carry the trash to the outside garbage bin. Even our very small children help. They almost make a game out of picking up trash around the building. They feel good about what they do and actually look forward to Mondays.

We have found that doing this small service has increased our children's reverence for the Lord's House; they take great pride in their work and truly feel they are in service to their God because they are helping to keep His house clean and holy.

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Last modified: November 14, 1999