Saturday, December 17, 2005

If it Needs to be Done

Here's something I wrote a couple years ago, which is, in the final analysis, about service.


The other day as I stretched to reach above the doorway, I heard my three-year-old say, “Here, I got the stool for you, Mama.” She had carried the step stool (bulky and heavy for her) all the way from the other end of the house, because saw that I needed it.

I hugged her. “You saw what Mama needed and you did it without being asked,” I told her. “Your Grandpa would be proud of you. Do you know that when I was a little girl, Grandpa told me lots of times, ‘Honey, if you see something that needs to be done, just DO IT!’ That’s what you did. Thank you!”

I don’t know how many times my brothers and sisters and I heard those words growing up. I suppose the reason we heard them so often is because we weren’t doing that, and we needed the reminders. Nevertheless, repetition bore fruit and as we grew into teenagers, we automatically pitched in wherever we were to wash dishes, sweep the floor, pick up trash, watch little children, or any other job that presented itself. It became such an ingrained habit that I never thought of NOT doing it. It’s something I see common in older generations, but not as much in younger ones. I guess those old-fashioned lessons are one of the boons of having older-than-average parents!

Now that I’m married and I have little ones in tow, it feels strange to not always be the one available to clean up after a church pot luck, or volunteer my time to help an older lady. It really feels strange to have a young girl say, “Can I help you with your babies?” Wait a minute, that was me a few years ago! I wonder if I was as much of a blessing to the mothers I helped as these girls are to me.

I have to guard against irritation when I see young people standing around when something needs to be done, and to have to ask them to lend a hand. It doesn’t help when they drag their feet, act bored, or do a poor job. Then I have to remind myself that they obviously don’t have parents who drill into them, “If you see something that needs to be done, DO IT!” Rather than being critical, I should feel badly for them. They’ve been denied a wonderful gift that would take them a long way in life. That’s why I’m already trying to instill in my little ones how important it is to pitch in and help even when it’s “Not my job” or “No one asked me to”. I’d be honored if their trademark expression became, “What can I do to help?” or better yet, if they became known as young people who could be counted on to observe the needs of others and jump into the job without being asked. I want them to know the joys of serving others for reasons other than reward, and to know the joy of honest hard work. I read the words of a wise mother who cheerfully tells her children, “We love to work hard!” Now I tell my little ones the same thing.

“Look at Elizabeth wash dishes! What a helper! We love to work hard, don’t we Elizabeth? God made us strong so we can do our work and help each other!”

“Look at Silas! He is such a good boy to pick up his blocks! Silas, you help Mama so much when you work hard! We love to work!”

I remember watching my mom wash dishes at church after pot lucks when I was very small. I remember my dad doing chores for neighbors when they were on vacation, and helping friends with other jobs. My parents modeled the lifestyle of voluntarily serving others, and included us kids in that. My husband and I try to model the joys of work and helping others to our children as well. I hope that by example and encouragement, they will become another generation of people whose delight is to help people without being asked. Of course, I’m sure it won’t hurt if they frequently hear, “Honey, if you see something that needs to be done, DO IT!”


Skye said...

Thank you for sharing this, Stephanie! It is truly a blessing that your parents taught you a good work ethic and to serve wherever there is work to be done. I want to teach that to Emma, though I need the Lord to help ME first. :)

Charity Grace said...

Great to hear from you Skye! Yes, I'm blessed to have parents who taught me that...

I have many areas that I know I have to work on myself before I can expect my kids to do them as well. So I'm right there with you.

Urka said...

I was taught this too, and it's proved to be a huge blessing, not only to others, but also to me. I've found employers love this attitude! haha

I've found I can't stand to be bored and I actually start looking for things to do when business is slow. It saves us all a lot of time later on!

If you always do things when you first notice them needing done, it doesn't all pile up so fast! My house cleaning and laundry day are so much cimpler if I've kept up with the little things during the week.

I'm so glad my parents taught me to love to work!! :)