It seems that selfishness is bred into us. I’m pretty sure that one of the first 5 words of both of my speaking children was “mine”. Children have to be taught to think of others before themselves. Likewise, as adults we have to work on denying our own selfish desires to make way for a sacrificial life in the name of Christ Jesus. Beth Moore put it like this, “if we miss the sacrificial life, we will miss our calling.”
So how do you teach small children to be selfless? Well, I think it begins with teaching them that the world does not revolve around them, they cannot have it all and they cannot do it all. One concrete way that the Dude and I are attempting this is to give them a global vision. We purchased two large laminated maps, one of the United States and one of the World. All of our family lives far from us in different states so we cut out pictures of family members and attached them to their state. Then we found the middle of Kansas and posted a picture of our little family. This helped Monkey to understand why it takes grandma so long to get here. Realizing that people we love have lives in other places and do things separate from us on a day to day basis is an admitedly subtle message, but I think it overcomes the idea that all life ceases when they are not here with us.
To take this a step farther, we added pictures of two children that we sponsor in other countries. It is a reminder that not all children get to choose between chicken nuggets and fish sticks for lunch. That there are friends out there who love Jesus, but need prayer and other resources that we can easily provide. Honestly, it is a good reminder for me too, and a fun project to do with the kids. Bear is still a little young for the deeper message, but he had fun helping cut out faces of “gamma and gampa” and sticking them to the map with sticky tac!
My prayer is that my family would have a global perspective and a desire to live a sacrificial life for Jesus. Hopefully these maps serve as a reminder!