How to Raise Servants in a Serve-Me World

I can’t think of service without an episode of The Cosby Show popping into my head. Cliff and Claire Huxtable are in the living room and the little neighbor boy shows up. Claire stands up and offers to get her husband, Cliff, a cup of coffee and the little boy gets a shocked look on his face.

“I didn’t think you did that sort of thing, Mrs. Huxtable.”

“What sort of thing?” she asks.

“You know. Serve your man.”

Instantly, Claire is offended and proceeds to tell the boy, in no uncertain terms, that she is not serving her man. The mere thought of serving another person, even her husband, was offensive to her.

The Serving Saviorwashingdishes

Being considered a servant was never offensive to Christ. One of His final lessons to his disciples was one of service. As He knelt before each man and washed his feet, Christ instructed them to do the same for each other.

For I have given you an example, that you should do just as I have done to you. – John 13:15

The problem is that this is contrary to what the world teaches. We live in a what’s-in-it-for-me kind of world. How can we teach our children that there is beauty in servanthood? How can we raise servants in a serve-me world?

  • Teach them to ask, “What can I do to help?” When it is time for my girls to clean their room, my three-year-old sometimes is found wandering aimlessly around the room. She wants to do something, but she doesn’t know what to do. I have taught her to walk up to one of her sisters and ask what she can do to help. The fact is that, left to our own devices, we will be selfish. Servanthood needs to be taught.
  • Let them see you serving. If you have ever tried to sneak the last piece of a pie when no one was looking, then you have discovered that someone is always looking. If you want your children to serve others, then that is what they need to see you doing.
  • Get uncomfortable. I have mentioned my introversion. I have admitted being socially awkward. To serve others, however, we must step out of our comfort zones. It means meeting people where they are and our children need to see us doing just that. Always being comfortable should make us uncomfortable.
  • Serve with a smile. Mother Theresa once said that the miracle was not the work she did, but that she was happy to do it. If we want our children to be true servants, we must instill in them a love of serving. It should be a desire and not an obligation.

We want our children to be healthy and happy. We want them to be well-rounded and productive members of society. We want them to be safe and successful. We want them to take care of us when we are old. {Oh, is that just me?}

Ultimately, however, we should want them to follow Jesus wherever He leads them. If they do that, God will take care of whatever else they need.

But seek first His kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:33

Whether it was the hungry or the helpless, Jesus served them.

Whether it was a brother or a betrayer, Jesus served them.

If we want to raise servants, we need to be servants.

Because, sometimes, I’m a phony.

Sometimes, I’m a phony. I don’t mean to be, mind you. It is true, none the less. {Do you ever look at a phrase like none the less and think, “what does that even mean?”}

There are days when I’m serving my little heart out what with the laundry doing and grit making and yes, honey, I can pretend to be a hunk of cheese and you’re a rat who is eating my leg. I don’t make up these games. I just play them, y’all.

I’m doing all the right things. I could instagram the moment, hashtag it #motherhood, and get me some virtual high fives.

Breakfast table

But, here’s the thing. In my heart, I’m having a Martha moment. In my head, I’m thinking, what is the point of doing all of this if no one applauds? Yikes, that’s kind of embarrassing to see in print.

{Time out. The baby just spit up all over my Bible. Luke is never going to smell the same, by the way.}


I get caught up in the command to serve and forget that it is, also, a privilege. The feeding of babies, the matching of little socks, the making of special meals, the pride of a clean kitchen – they are all gifts.

Little girls are watching me and it matters what they see. I don’t want them to picture me grumbling as I clean the toilets or complaining about yet another stain on the carpet. I want them to see me, not just serving, but taking pleasure in the serving. I think of a quote from Mother Theresa that I once read.

The miracle is not that we do this work, but that we are happy to do it.

Let that one sit for a bit.


This morning, one of my girls woke me up by whispering in my ear. Mommy, do you want some grits because I can make them. She then made breakfast for all of her sisters, cleaned up after herself and made me a cup of coffee. And, y’all, the smile on her face was the best part. It tickled her to pieces to serve.

Then, there was the time another one of my girls took her entire piggy bank to the store because she had decided to spend it all on less fortunate kids at Christmastime. For days afterward, she kept telling me, It just felt so good to give it all away.

When serving becomes a burden, it’s time for a heart check. Our Savior was a server and it should be an honor to be the same.