The International Day of Families is an occasion to celebrate the importance of families to people, societies and cultures around the world.
The parents in my workshop, just then, started shifting in their red, conference-room seats and looking mostly at their hands, or shoes. I was at a conference, speaking to a group of parents, and had just asked, “Raise your hand if you think you are one of the most influential people in the world.”
One hand in the back sort of halfway went up in the air. Kind of.
Today, on the International Day of Families, it’s a good day to learn, and own your influence. Not only for the sake of kids in poverty but for your own family too.
Here’s the truth…
One: American families care the most, serve the most and give the most to help children in need.
Two: We’re also the biggest influence on our own kid’s physical and spiritual wholeness.
And the trifecta: Serving those in need is the single most influential action our families take that also strengthens our own kids’ faith.
Okay, wait, you say. Back up. That’s a lot. Help me believe you so maybe I can put my hand at least halfway in the air.
In studies done across the USA, the folks who go beyond talking a good game to actually serving and giving to others are regular families of faith like yours and mine. (See Who Really Cares: America’s Charity Divide.)
In “How Mom Can End Extreme Poverty” in his book Hope Rising, Compassion’s Sr. VP of Global Advocacy, Dr. Scott Todd, writes, “It may seem unreasonable for Mom…to guide…poverty-fighting strategies…. But not only can Mom do it, she may be the best qualified person for the job.”
When you serve, who better to serve than children in need? Around 70% of decisions for Christ happen before age 18. Factors in play before age 5, such as malnutrition or lack of simple iodine, can shape a child’s brain capacity for life.
Creates Good for All Families
Studies from Baylor University (Diana R. Garland, Family and Community Ministries 2012, Volume 25) have identified the most powerful characteristic of families growing in the faith: they serve. Service to others, laying a foundation for a lifetime of faith, is what any parent who wants to build their own family’s faith can do.
Though the research is current, the principle is timeless.
When God commanded his people in the wilderness to “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength,” (Deut. 6:5, NIV) the commandment actually included operating instructions about transmitting God’s commands to our children:
“Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deut 6:7, NIV)
I can’t think of a better day than the International Day of Families for each of us –dads and moms alike– to put our arms high in the air and proclaim, God has made my family enough to help kids in need! And to thank Him that, as we serve and give, we are becoming more of who he made us to be.
For the good of your own kids and, more importantly, for the good of kids in need, raise your hand.