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Teaching Your Child to Serve with Contentment

By Dr. Don Dunlap
Pastoral Counselor
Do you want to raise content, servant-hearted children who are eager to help others? Learn how!

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Two of the most important character qualities a child can possess are godly contentment and a servant’s spirit. In the fifth article of an eleven-part series on parenting, Dr. Dunlap offers practical suggestions for how to invest these qualities in our children’s lives. He emphasizes the importance of diligence, cheerfulness and selflessness. He suggests that above all, we should spend some time every day praising God with our children for His many blessings in our lives.

God’s Word charges Christian parents with the unique privilege of raising their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. In my efforts to guide parents through the confusing maze of secular child-rearing philosophies that abound in our culture today, I suggest ten areas of biblical instruction that parents should address in their children’s lives. This is a continuation of those ten principles.


6.     Teach your child how to be content, and how to begin each day with praise and thanksgiving.


Emphasize to your children, the truth of Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is more desirable than great riches.” Teach them, from the beginning, to fix their eyes on the unseen, which is eternal, rather than on what is seen, which is temporary and will pass away, according to 2 Corinthians 4:18. Explain to them that because our hearts are naturally greedy, we are never satisfied with the accumulation of “things.” We always want more.

Help your children to realize that possessions will never make them happy. Do not encourage them to set their heart on making large sums of money. Encourage them, instead, to pursue godliness with contentment. Remind them often of 1 Timothy 6:8, “If we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content.”

Praise and thanksgiving are integral parts of contentment. The writer of Psalm 118:24 proclaims,

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.


One of the most valuable tools that a parent can give a child is teaching him or her to seek God first every morning, before he or she begins the daily routine.


As you conduct regular family worship with your children, remember to spend part of each session praising God for specific aspects of His character, and thanking Him for His gracious acts of lovingkindness in your life and in your children’s lives. Our sinful hearts are not naturally inclined to praise and thank God. It is a habit that we must consciously and actively cultivate, but one that will reap mighty spiritual dividends throughout our lives.


7.     Teach your child how to have a servant’s heart and how to love others unselfishly.


Servanthood is one of the most important concepts in the Christian life. One of the first songs that we teach our own children when they are very young is, “If you want to be great in God’s kingdom, learn to be a servant of all.” Familiarize your children with Philippians 2:3,4:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.


Design family service projects for you and your children to carry out on a regular basis. Take them to rake leaves for widows in your church congregation. When you hear of a friend who is ill, go with your children and clean the friend’s house. Bake cookies together to welcome new neighbors, and volunteer to visit elderly people together in nursing homes.


Elisabeth Elliot beautifully describes the essence of the Christian life as, “My life for yours.” Teach your children to serve cheerfully and diligently, with no expectation of reward. Jesus Christ emptied Himself of His kingly rights and became a bond-servant for us. We ought to demonstrate to our children by our godly example, that Christians must be eager to lay their lives down in loving service to others.


Dr. Don Dunlap, a pioneer in the placement of Pastoral Counselors in the offices of Christian physicians, has conducted over twenty thousand appointments during his ministerial career. His counseling practice includes adults, children and families in crisis. Dr. Dunlap is committed to facilitating a network of telephone counselors. His goal is to provide help for the many people unable to meet face to face with a competent Bible-based counselor. For a complete library of Dr. Dunlap’s articles, indexed by topic, go to Family Counseling Ministries. You may also make an appointment for personal telephone counseling by clicking on Family Counseling Ministries. Family Counseling Ministries is a ministry Partner.

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