Last Saturday while I went to the grocery store, my husband and the boys went shopping for my Mother’s Day gifts. I’m incredibly blessed to have been given such wonderful sons. They are talented and beautiful in surprisingly unique ways. I look forward to seeing the men they will grow up to be. I want them to be empowered to carve out their own space in life without worrying much about my expectations. But I pray that they will grow up to embrace a passion for service and here are the reasons why.
- I want them to find themselves earlier than I found myself. I know that their minds will be bombarded with thoughts and questions centered around who they are and who they want to be. I want them to have the tools to discover key elements of their character. A deliberate focus on service develops discipline, patience and a concept of honor much faster and easier than the world will.
- I want them to get over themselves. I know that they will snap a thousand “selfies” or whatever form of self-expression is popular in the days to come. But I want them to know that they are not the center of the universe. I want them to feel significant enough to lend a helping hand, but humble enough to seek help when they need it. I want them to have a balanced view of themselves. So they can appreciate their strengths, but also accept and forgive their imperfections. They will need to make peace with their self-image if they hope to have the compassion and empathy to serve.
- I want them to love hard. I want them to be prepared for the work love requires. I want them to be prepared to serve those they love. And I also want them to require that those who claim to love them show their love by serving and respecting them. This will help them not waste time on people unworthy of their vulnerability. Love in all its forms (friendship, family and romantic) requires great commitment and effort. I want them to expect love and serving one another to go hand and hand.
- I want them to know where they can find happiness. I know that they will look to new jobs for happiness. I know that they will look to money for happiness. I know that they will look to parties and friends and women and alcohol (and hopefully NOT drugs) for happiness. I want them to have the insight to measure their lives by love and service and not just superficial signs of success. I want them to know God’s magical formula that gratitude plus service equals happiness.
- I want them to know how to quiet the voices in their heads. I know their internal voices will talk ceaselessly about their own needs, about their pain, their failures and their struggles. I want them to have ways to quiet those voices. I want them to have the tools to connect to God. I want them to know that prayer and service will quench their thirst for validation.
- I want them to be resilient. I want them to embrace life as a magnificent learning experience. I want them to accept that struggle, grief and loss will be some of the best teachers in their lives. I want them to submit to viewing hardships as character refining lessons. I want them to see through service that tough times are universal and that faith, time and love can heal all wounds. I want them to know how to bounce back.