Do your feet match your talk?: Teaching our kids to serve and be generous

Written by Christi Haag
Published on September 04, 2020

Growing up, my dad giving away the very shoes on his feet was not uncommon in my household. When I was a child, I remember someone saying, “Homer, I like your shoes,” and my dad replying “here, take them….I don’t wear them much anyway.” The same happened with giving away all of our pots and pans and even once our car. I come from a long line of not only “sayers” but “doers”.  Actions are infinitely more powerful than words to our children. “Do as I say and not as I do” holds little water.  “Do as I say AND what I do” is life changing for a child.  Watching my parents love others by serving, giving and doing has been one of the greatest blessings and influences in my life.


Jesus loved smelly feet! He was a giver and a doer. He never shied away from people who didn’t smell or look like the general public. He gave food, he gave life, he gave blessings, he gave Himself. When we put others’ needs ahead of our own, we look and smell like Jesus. “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” (2Corinthians 2:15 NIV) Our children need to not only hear us talk about Jesus, they need to see us look, act and smell like him!


Recently, I spent some time talking with a group of homeless men in front of a local shelter. They were kind and eager to not only listen, but be heard. The day prior to that, a lady approached my car in a parking lot. She looked surprised when I actually stopped to talk to her and truly listened and helped her in a tangible way.


We try to keep food gift cards and small Bibles in each of our cars. When I see a homeless person at a stop light, I always try to quickly roll down my window, tell the person my name, ask them their name and shake their hand. Then I give them a McDonald’s card and a Bible while telling them I will be praying for them by name. It’s worth a honk or two by the person behind me to be the hands, feet and voice of Jesus. 


My two boys now do the same. It’s common for one of my adult boys to tell me about someone in need that they helped that day. If that sounds like I am bragging, well I am! In reaching out to serve and be generous, they are looking and smelling like Jesus. Our children do what they have seen us do. 


I want to share 5 things we can say and do to help our children “BE” the hands and feet of Jesus in service and generosity:


Be inconvenienced

If we are running to Wednesday night church with the kids in the car and see a person in need, STOP! Be willing to be late to church. Reach out in love and help the person if possible. The story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37) is powerful and reeks of being inconvenienced but is at the heart of Jesus.  


Be cheerful

Walk toward people God puts in your path with a bounce in your step instead of a resigned responsibility. Kids are smarter than we think!  One time while serving in an orphanage in Russia one of our team members did not want to be there and it showed. I’ll never forget when one of the little boys at the orphanage said, “You don’t want to be here, do you?” 

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians” 9:6–8 NIV)


Be humble

Lord, it’s hard to be humble! Our kids are constantly bombarded in today’s world with the phrase from that song. Jesus continuously modeled the need to walk in humility. Teaching our kids to be humble and kind is hard, but it is an incredible gift they can re-gift the rest of their lives. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3 NIV)


Be intentional

Often we wake up, jump in to our day, run through the “to do’s” and before we know it, we are tucking our kids in to bed. No matter what in the world is pulling on you or pushing you, commit yourself to walking with God. That means every day spending time in God’s Word, in prayer and intentionally looking for ways to be the hands and feet of Jesus.


Be last

Move your feet at the speed others need you to for their good and God’s glory. The world tells us to push to the front, take the first seat, demand that our child be in the starting line-up. Jesus says, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matthew 20:16 NIV) I know it’s a lot to ask, but are you willing for your little Jimmy to be last in line every once in a while? Are you modeling that yourself? It’s tough to be last these days. But Jesus didn’t mind. He washed some dirty feet and we are still talking about it today. (John 13:1–17) 


I began this article telling you about my dad giving away the very shoes on his feet.  I am ending this article sharing how Jesus washed some dirty feet.  Serving and being generous is one of the greatest gifts we can model and give our kids.  Let’s show them how to love some smelly feet.


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Christi Haag

Christi Haag is the wife of Dr. Jerry Haag, President/CEO of One More Child, and she represents the organization in locations throughout the world as a volunteer, renowned speaker, spokeswoman and leader.
A graduate of Baylor University, Christi has led and participated in Christian orphan care, humanitarian aid, emergency relief, medical missions, childcare and ministry to children and families in Haiti, Romania, Nicaragua, Uganda, Peru, Dominican Republic, South Africa, Tanzania, Mexico, Kenya, Guatemala, Russia, Latvia, Switzerland and Honduras. She has traveled to Bosnia, Spain, France, Hawaii, Bahamas, Italy, England, Mediterranean, China, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Estonia, Finland, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, Greece, Turkey and several other countries for recreational, missional and educational purposes. Christi is an advocate for orphans, homeless and the hungry and speaks passionately about her call to reach out to “…the least of these.”

Read more about Christi

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