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Saying Yes to the Best, and No to the Rest

The first time my pastor asked if I’d be interested in volunteering to help start a Pregnancy Care Center, my mental answer was an immediate That’s nice, but no thank you. As a homeschooling mom and part-time writer, I had a full plate. I didn’t want to be running every which way. I wanted time to spend with my husband and children. We were also already involved as a family in serving on Sundays.

But I told my pastor the politically correct answer, forcing my lips into a smile. “Pastor Daniel,” I said, “I’ll have to pray about that.

Next morning, as I sat down with my Bible and journal, I was reminded of my promise to pray. To be truthful, my prayer went something like this: “Dear Lord, I know Pastor Daniel means well. I know there is a huge need for help for women facing crisis pregnancies, but my plate is already full. I’m thankful that I’m able to be home with my kids. I’m thankful that I get to write. I would like to help, Lord, but doesn’t he see I’m helping others instead? My words are going out all over the world, sharing Your good news. Help me find a good way to tell Pastor Daniel no.”

As I sat there I felt a stirring within, and I was sure it was the Holy Spirit trying to get my attention. What are you doing to help people in your own community? I knew the thought wasn’t from me. Could this be God speaking?

Wouldnt it be nice to give others the same type of help you received? the inner voice said.

That last thought especially struck a chord. I recalled how, years before when I was a pregnant teenager, my mother and grandmother’s Bible study group had supported me. Because of their love, I’d considered giving my bruised and battered heart to Jesus. They hadn’t turned their backs on me even though I’d messed up big time—which made me think that maybe God hadn’t turned His back on me, either. One day, when I was six months pregnant, I turned my life over to Him.

Sitting on my couch all those years later, Bible in hand, I knew that God was trying to tell me something. He wanted me to get involved.

Soon I started working with the pastor and two other women to get the center up and running. More volunteers joined our ranks.

I never expected God to work so quickly. Within a year we had a donated building. The abortion rate in our county was down by one third, and many young men and women were coming to know Christ through the love shown to them by dedicated volunteers.

I also never expected my husband and children to get so involved. They were there on evenings and weekends, helping to fix up the Victorian house we’d been given to use for the center. My daughter babysat for our teen mother support groups. We celebrated as I shared stories of the wonderful things happening in the pregnancy center. We enjoyed inviting young mommies and couples into our home for meals and mentoring.

I’d believed I didn’t have time for service. But following God’s direction not only changed our community, it also helped my family to determine our values and choices.

We became a service-oriented family. What I thought would take me away from my husband and kids actually pulled us together. It also set a foundation for our other core values and guided our future priorities.

Once your children understand the vision for your family and have a picture of where you want to take them—and why—the next step is to model what you believe. By living each day according to your family’s values and accomplishing the established goals, you set a good example that shows your kids what it means to live the family’s vision. In essence, you lead by becoming a servant of that vision.

I remember the first time I saw one of my kids choose to live out our family values and priorities without my prodding.

My son came home from junior high youth group with a smile on his face. “Mom, our youth leader was looking for a place to have our youth Christmas party. I told him we could have it at our house, because we love having people over.”

I smiled and told Cory that would be fine. In the years to come I always made extra food at dinner and bought extra snacks for the weekend because I never knew what additional people we’d have around the dinner table. John and I had told our children many times that we loved opening our home and serving others. But even more than our words, our kids saw it lived out.

Everyone is watching—especially your children. If parents live out their values, kids are ready to follow suit. Jesus lived His values of loving God and loving His neighbors all the way to the cross:

Greater love has no one than this, that he  lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

When I look back now, I’m thankful that I spent time praying and asking God about whether or not I should volunteer at the Pregnancy Care Center. It’s amazing to see that God not only had a plan for me, but also for my children. He wanted to show me what my husband and I had inside—hearts of service, compassion, and evangelism. He also knew that when we followed Him, our kids would follow us!

Maybe you, too, will discover that the one thing you don’t feel you have time for is the very way in which God wants to teach you and your children about becoming servant leaders.

From Lead Your Family Like Jesus by Ken Blanchard, Phil Hodges, and Tricia Goyer

Does your family need a five-star general at the helm? A psychologist? A referee? Ken Blanchard, best-selling co-author of The One Minute Manager and Lead Like Jesus, points to a better role model: the Son of God. Joined by veteran parents and authors Phil Hodges and Tricia Goyer, renowned business mentor Blanchard shows how every family member benefits when parents take the reins as servant-leaders. Moms and dads will see themselves in a whole new light—as life-changers who get their example, strength, and joy from following Jesus at home. This user-friendly book’s practical principles and personal stories mark the path to a truly Christ-centered family, where integrity, love, grace, self-sacrifice, and forgiveness make all the difference.

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