Years ago, Michelle Anthony introduced me to the 10 Environments. The simplicity of them struck me, and although I had heard some of the same language throughout my life, I had never fully realized how interconnected the environments are and how they weave in and out of one another. The reality is, these environments so easily connect to one another because they live under the banner of worship.
Over the years, I began to intentionally introduce these environments in my home in the hopes that my children would understand and begin to grasp their inherited generational faith as their own. With a son, James (nine), and a daughter, Mazie (five), I’m slowly beginning to see the fruit produced out of an intentional focus on these environments.
I’d venture to say that the environment of Serving is probably one of the harder environments to introduce to a young child to without the environment of Modeling being closely woven into it. So, without a calculated plan for educating our kids on the importance of Serving, my wife and I simply asked God to begin to open our own eyes to what needed to be done in our home and community in hopes that a natural bent toward Serving would emerge in our kids. We soon discovered that the mere question “What needs to be done?” (embedded in the Serving environment) is in itself an act of worship! However, with such a focus on our own contributions to this environment, we almost missed the effects of being served by others and how this would affect our children.
My wife recently visited an IKEA store with our kids and, of course, our kids begged for a treat after the shopping was over. My wife relented and went to get in line for some ice cream. Out of the blue, the woman standing behind them in line asked if it would be okay for her to pay for our children’s order. She went on to explain that from time to time, she notices kids around her (in the absence of her own nieces and nephews) and chooses to bless other kids in the same way she would her own family if they lived close by. It was a touching moment that had lasting effects.
It wasn’t the act of serving that had the most effect. It was the question: What needs to be done? In that moment, our kids’ takeaway was that they were seen and noticed. Yes, they got their treat, but they don’t yet understand the concept of “free treat.” The concept they DO understand is the kindness of a stranger. A few days later, we found ourselves at Starbucks waiting for an order. Nearby were two Army servicemen, and Mazie quickly took notice of them. She was captivated by their uniforms and would not stop staring. So, we talked about their uniforms and what these men do for our country. When Mazie asked if she could meet them, other customers began to take notice and were touched by the kindness of a five year old. She had a chance to meet them, thank them, and get her picture taken with them.
My own takeaway from these two examples is how they are so closely tied together: one moment feeding into the other. The heart of a servant is nurtured by what it receives. Take time today to ask the question “What needs to be done?” and to also notice the question being answered on your behalf. It’s only then that you and your family will begin to notice the change around you and also the change within you. In this world, we are a part of a collection of strangers who are bonded together in the image of God. It’s up to us to recognize Him in the everyday and ask ourselves how we might join Him in displaying His love to those around us.
Make time this month to notice the simple needs around you. As you and your family go about your daily routines, ask God to show you the needs in your local trip to the grocery store, in a restaurant, at a gas station, or just anywhere life takes you. You’ll be surprised to find that the heart of serving will naturally grow and develop simply by opening your eyes.