Being kind to others and serving others results in benefits for everyone. When you teach your children to be kind and serve others, you will notice that they fight less, they express gratitude and thankfulness more often and they improve their problem solving ability. The best part is that entitlement diminishes.
Last week I encouraged everyone to be kind to their immediate family and to look at ways they could begin to show kindness to each other. I believe that showing love to your family is an integral way of raising world changers. This week, I would like to encourage you to change the world by changing your neighbour’s world.
I was fortunate to grow up with a mother who displayed amazing kindness to our neighbours. When I was growing up on our farm, we always seemed to have an endless supply of neighbour’s dropping in for a cuppa and a chat. Mum was an amazing listener to them. There were also a few middle aged bachelors that would come as well and mum would always invite them to stay for dinner (& then promptly ask my sister and myself to entertain them whilst she milked the cows). She was forever cooking meals for people who were experiencing life events that brought about change. In fact, she modelled it so well that when mum died, the closest neighbour cooked and brought in a week’s supply of meals for us.
I love how my kids have integrated loving their neighbours into their life. Matey (now 12) has just finished mowing the neighbours lawn. Whenever he makes biscuits or muffins, he always delivers a couple to her for her afternoon tea – only a couple of muffins as she lives on her own. When our elderly neighbour was still alive in the unit behind our home, Matey would clean out her gutters. After she had been out driving to the shops, I would reverse her car down her drive into her garage for her. Princess (now 15) would paint her toenails for her before this lady went out. Princess spent many hours cleaning out this neighbour’s bird cage for her. We would collect her mail and put out and bring in her garbage bin each week. There are many things you can do to help an elderly person make their life a bit easier so they can continue to live at home.
When we shifted into this street 12 years ago, we letterboxed the street and invited all the neighbours to a street Christmas party. I was heavily pregnant with Matey at the time as we held it one week before he was born. Several neighbours commented how they had lived in this street for over 35 years and had thought a street Christmas party would be a great idea, but they had never got around to it. We have organised it every year since, apart from one year when I was exhausted and let the neighbours know I couldn’t do it – but they all complained because no one else took it on and they missed out that year.
Whenever any of our neighbours go away, we collect mail and vice versa. If we see stray litter around, we pick it up. It keeps the neighbourhood looking nice. We have written encouragement cards and put in neighbour’s letterboxes. When anyone new moves into the street, we cook them a meal, complete with everything disposable so no need to worry about retuning dishes or them having to find cutlery, for the night they shift in. We also cook meals for families having babies etc. In fact, when Matey was born, we received a beautiful surprise from the neighbourhood, friends and church with oodles of people cooking us meals – so many in fact that we had enough cooked meals by others for the first month.
I can remember numerous times juggling baby, baby gear and food as we went to the car to deliver meals to yet another person in crisis, and I would see my neighbour and her daughter out on the nature strip next to our car. This neighbour often commented how I always seemed to be taking meals to people. I now wish I had stopped and created room in my life back then to spend time with this neighbour and her daughter, as I believe my neighbour was crying out for someone to ‘love’ her.
When we intentionally try to be kind to others, we need to also intentionally create some room in our life for it to be an ongoing part of our life. I find that many people wish to live like this but just don’t have the time to ‘be’ kind to others.
I encourage you as a family this week to brainstorm a variety of things that you could do to help someone in your street. Start by selecting the person/neighbour. Once you have decided on the person, then brainstorm ideas that you could do so as to encourage them or help them. Listen to each family member and try to involve your whole family.
I would love you to comment below in what you’ve done as it helps other people with ideas and spurs us all on to do good. In this way, we are raising world changers.