In the beginning, I did everything myself. It was faster, better, more efficient. I did it right, the first time. The way it should be done. But my children didn’t catch on as I had hoped and emulate my serving. They enjoyed being served and I realised that there was a need to learn the importance of serving others.
At Norwest, we strive to engage our community in the Building Purposeful Lives framework, seeking to build students who are independent learners, know their God, understand that we are all placed on this world with a purpose, and tasked with the responsibility to build our capacity to fulfil this God-given purpose. It is in each moment at the College where we are intentional in stretching and growing these understandings.
This year, each student has engaged with developing an understanding of how we can serve. Our framework defines service as, ‘We worship God by sharing the gospel, and humbly, justly, generously, and compassionately helping others, placing their needs above our own.’
All children benefit greatly from learning to care for and demonstrate their love for others with acts of service. Some may believe that the selfishness that they see in children is simply a stage that they will outgrow. Unfortunately, without some intentionality, it can sometimes be more comfortable for humans in general, and more specifically children, to think more about their own needs than the needs of others. Selfish habits can become more entrenched without opportunities to look beyond ourselves and consider the situations of others.
To raise awareness of serving others, and to teach explicitly in this area, children learn to:
- Be others centred rather than self-centred
- Be more grateful when others serve them
- Be more responsible
- Consider that their actions are important to others and
- Demonstrate their love for others.
Serving others is love in action. It is sacrificial. It is other centred. It shows in action that we care and are willing to do something to show how much we care. If children learn while they are young, the value of giving themselves, not for praise but just because it blesses others and also ourselves by giving, their lives will richer. Numerous studies link mental and physical health benefits from serving others. Children who receive opportunities to serve others tend to make healthier lifestyle choices and develop better social skills than those who do not serve.
As a College, students have the opportunity to serve others in many ways. As I look over the year that has almost finished, and having reflected on what service opportunities are available for our College, I am proud of the achievements of our community.
Our students have served and supported Carevan Blacktown this year, as we have done for a few years now. Carevan Blacktown feeds healthy hot meals to the disadvantaged in Blacktown. We support Carevan Blacktown by providing the majority of their cooked meals, which are produced in the Food Tech rooms on Tuesday afternoons by secondary students.
At the end of Term 2 this year, our major fundraiser was to support Vision Rescue. Vision Rescue is a registered non-profit organisation in India seeking to empower people to find their purpose, enjoy their rights, and live with dignity. We supported the work that they do in their Education project, which seeks to provide educational support and nutritious meals to children in slum communities. As a community, we were able to raise $2247 to help the needs of others.
This term, Primary has been serving others by doing jobs and tasks for others, to support the work of TEAR Australia. TEAR Australia enables people to overcome poverty by equipping them to lead their development initiatives. As a Primary school, our students have served exceptionally well and together have raised an exceptional $9691.52.
There are many other ways that our students have learnt to serve others. These include mission trips to Cambodia, Regional Mission tour supporting areas in New South Wales, Holiday Clubs where Secondary students serve Primary students and share God’s word to visiting a local nursing home to encourage and support the elderly.
However, service does not always have to be a big grand gesture. Sometimes it is simply a smile and hello to someone who passes you by. It may look like the simple act of opening a door for someone, the offer to carry a heavy load or the willingness to offer a listening ear.
As we head into the Christmas season, we pray that we can encourage our children to look for opportunities where they can use the information that has been discussed and place these thoughts into practical ways to serve others. May we be looking for ways to encourage children to ask, ‘How can I help you?’ rather than ‘What can I get out of this?’
God is far more interested in why you serve others than in how well you serve them. He is always looking at our heart, wanting to see us serving willingly and eagerly out of love for Jesus and gratitude for all he has done for us. Let’s be looking for ways to serve others and share His love and care.
Head of Primary Years