I have been traveling for the last week and have had the opportunity to interact with students and leaders from the other side of the country. In this process I also had to fly on 8 different airplanes. If you have ever been on a plane you know the “disembark” dance. The moment the wheels touch down, everyone sits forward in their seat in anticipation. Seatbelt light goes “off” and the masses stand, poised to run off the tin can that has just flown them to their destination. You wait, as the rows file in front of you. UNLESS. Of course you are too slow. Then you are left in the dust. There is approximately a two minute lag to get all of your stuff together and jump into the aisle without having to wait until everyone else gets off first.

It struck me this is a great example of what can happen with our students after our “summer service” experiences. We have attended work camps or missions groups. There was a planned “service” activity on the calendar. High School students now have a paper in hand to “sign off” on “volunteer hours.” However, my question is what are we doing to teach them serving in the day to day?

Here are other things I experienced on my trip:

  • A 79 year old woman who housed me and made me eggs and sausage every day, so that I could “speak to parents and youth workers.”
  • People who invited me to stay in their home, in the midst of crazy lives, taking time to talk with me and make sure I was well taken care of.
  • A group of people who went OUT of their way to accommodate some special dietary needs that I have.

Now I had also been invited in as an “expert” so perhaps they felt like they “had” to. Yet- here are some things I noticed these same leaders didn’t “have” to do:

  • Take the time out to help a friend move, when few others showed up.
  • Hang out with a hurting student and give her a little extra attention because she needs it right now.
  • Hand write me a map so I could have the “best, most scenic route” for my morning run.

It’s easy to teach our students service in events, program and dates on a calendar. What are we doing to go out of our way on a daily basis to show them how to serve and be selfless in the process? Putting yourself aside is easy when you know you only have to make it happen for a week or so. It’s much more complicated when it is a lifestyle. Yet, we have to ask do want to raise a generation that believes in the “cause” of the broken, oppressed, hurting, sick, poor and widows OR do we want to see them just love on their neighbors the way they love themselves?

How do we make this happen?

Model it. When you don’t feel like it. Be the last out the door and ask a student to help you stack the chairs. Take an afternoon and sit with an elderly woman who just needs some company, and bring them with you. Hold the door for those in front of you, call the cashier by name, stop to help someone pick up something they drop (even when you are in a hurry), go to the back of the line when it’s your turn to be in the front. Think of others first when you don’t want to be second.

We can talk about service until the day is done. Yet, do we want to keep taking trips every summer or see some take ownership of becoming a servant?

What are you doing to bring the “servant” attitude back to school this Fall?