Either as a family, or as an individual, it is important to seek out opportunities for serving others. Sometimes the hardest part is coming up with ideas, or opening our hearts to see the need that is there. There are many needy people around us – those close to us, to those we may never meet. While this is far from a comprehensive list, these are some of the ways I, and our family, enjoy serving others.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:1-4 ESV)

1. Make a meal. When someone is sick or has a new baby or just needs to be cheered up and loved, make them a meal! Bring it in foil containers so they don’t have to worry about washing up or returning dishes. And make sure to include a yummy dessert and card with some scripture and caring thoughts to show they are loved!

2. Host! Most of my friends know I LOVE to have people over. I love preparing our home for company, trying out some new recipes, creating an environment where others can feel comfortable, kick back and relax (despite the chaos of kids playing :D). A bonus way to serve – don’t let friends with young kids help you clean up! :D Let them leave so they can get their most-likely tired little ones home for a rest. Part of hosting is in the prep and the clean up. I LOVE doing it, so if you’re ever over, don’t feel bad about leaving behind a mess – besides, I have a great troup of helpers at my disposal that always need more opportunities to help serve :0).

3. Teach your children to help their teachers – whether at school, co-op, church or other classes. Give them some ideas for how they can offer to help. Maybe even ask the teachers to get on board to help with finding things for them to help with. For example, my boys help to set up the chairs for children’s worship the Sunday mornings I am leading. They also help to collect up the friendship registers from the pews, and sometimes the communion cups when they have been used.

4. Trade babysitting. This has been a favourite mode of serving of mine of late! We have two couples that we are periodically trading off babysitting with. We obviously get the best end of the deal since we have 3 and they each only have 1 :D But it is still a great way to serve, and one that benefits you both! Actually, most acts of service benefit two ways – both the giver and the receiver! Go one step further and offer to take the child/ren for no exchange but to give them a break.

5. Make up care packages for people in need. Although we don’t live in a big city, anytime we head downtown Toronto we run into people on the streets who are in need. Make a trip to the dollar store and put together some simple care packages – include the essentials (toothbrush, toothpaste, socks, hat, mitts {if cold weather}, gum or candy/chocolate bar, brush, soap, etc.). Make sure you include a Bible! Most dollar stores carry them for a buck or two. Or grab some coffee shop gift cards to keep on hand. Try to refrain from giving cash. That way, when you see someone in need, you will have the tools to minister to their bodies – and their hearts – right away.

6. Get involved in a soup kitchen, food bank, VBS or other outreach ministry. Unfortunately, in our area, most of the food banks and soup kitchens will not allow children under the age of 18 to help out (unless it is on a tour in a special group). But we can still make donations to the soup kitchen and food bank. Our church has a compassion ministry as well to which we can contribute, and there may be opportunities down the road to become involved as a family. Sign up to help out with your church’s VBS program – even if it is just in the kitchen making meals, or watching the littlest members, it is still a great way to be involved in serving – especially right in your community!

7. Shovel the snow, cut the grass, weed the flower beds. This goes for a parent or child! We share a driveway with our neighbours, and we don’t often need to shovel as we park both vehicles in it. But our oldest loves to get out there and help daddy, and will often volunteer to shovel the neighbour’s side as well. If you have someone who is elderly and can’t shovel or cut their grass, offer to keep up with it for them, without payment, just for the sake of serving them.

8. Pray for others. Even if they may never know your prayers for them, consistently lift others up in prayer. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working (James 5:16).

9. Clean out your closets, basement, garage – hold a garage sale and donate the proceeds to a local shelter or ministry – or just donate the GOOD STUFF to a Crisis Pregnancy Centre or something similar.

10. Always be ready to share what you have been given. Whether it is money, home, food, laughter, tears, encouragement, prayers and friendship – always be ready and looking for the next need to be met – all to the glory of God.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: (1 Peter 4:10 ESV)

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