It's a Start

Gary Smalley and John Trent

We know a wealthy couple in Dallas who have really struggled with teaching their children servant-hood. For one thing, the kids have had almost whatever they've wanted for years. They've become so accustomed to others meeting their needs that the idea of "serving" sounded like something from the Middle Ages... or Mars.

The father in that family realized he was getting a late start, but hey, it was better than no start at all!

A week or so before the holidays, he said to his family, "We're going to do something different this Thanksgiving.

His teenagers sat up and listened. Usually when he said things like that it meant something exotic. Like parasailing in Bahamas.

But not this time. "Were going to go down to the mission," he told them, "and we're going to serve Thanksgiving dinner to some poor and homeless people.

"We're going to what?"

"Come on, Dad, you're kidding... aren't you? Tell us you're kidding."

He wasn't. They went along with it because of his firm insistence, but no one was happy about it. For some reason their Dad had "gotten weird" and apparently it was something he just had to get out of his system. Serving at the mission! What if their friends heard about it?

No one could have predicted what happened that day. And no one in the family could remember when they had a better time together. They hustled around the kitchen, dished up turkey and dressing, sliced pumpkin pie and refilled countless coffee cups. They clowned around with the little kids and listened to old folks tell stories of Thanksgiving long ago and far away.

The dad in the family was thoroughly pleased (would you believe stunned?) by the way his kids responded. But nothing could have prepared him for their request a few weeks later.

"Dad... we want to go back to the mission and serve Christmas dinner!"

And they did. As the kids hoped, they met some of the same peope they'd become acquainted with at Thanksgiving. One needy family in particular had been on their minds, and they all lit up when they saw them contacts. The pampered teenagers have rolled up their sleeves more than once to serve the family from one of the Dallas' poorer neighborhoods.

There was a marked but subtle change in that home. the kids didn't seem to be taking things for granted anymore. Their parents found them more serious... more responsible. Yes, it was a late start. But it was a start.

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