Look around, and you see a lot of people who have fallen on hard times. Unemployment remains high, underemployment is even higher, and the housing market stays low. Many people, though they’d be embarrassed to admit it, could use at least a little help. As we prepare to gather around our family tables this Thanksgiving, counting our blessings and giving thanks for all that God has provided for us, it’s hard for us to ignore those that don’t have much, or who are experiencing difficult times.
As hard as we try to get our students into a habit of serving those who are less fortunate, it just seems so much easier at this time of year. Thanksgiving and Christmas seem to bring out the contrast of those that have and those that don’t. We’re more sensitive to giving back and serving around Thanksgiving and Christmas, and so are your students.
Taking advantage of this time to serve others is easier because there are so many opportunities and activities where you can get plugged in to help in your community. Posting a list of available activities that serve the underprivileged in your community is always a good idea this time a year; you can easily act as a central hub of information for your church. Make sure the parents of your students have access to this list as well, even better than your students serving with the youth group is your students serving with their families.
You’re already busy this holiday season, and getting busier. I know. I’m right there with you. Scheduling another outing close to Thanksgiving isn’t something you may want to consider; so many people are with their families, so many more are as busy as you; they don’t have the time: But Thanksgiving is a perfect time to teach some very important lessons about what it means to be thankful, what it means to love, and what it means to serve.
So many of us are so privileged and have so much to be thankful for. Those of us who have been given much are also asked much of; we have and can give; we have and should give. Thanksgiving is a perfect time to do just that, and to teach our students the beauty and worth of serving others.
This Thanksgiving, help your students to gain a deeper understanding of Thanksgiving. Help them to be thankful for what they have, but help them to give to others so that they may also have something to be thankful for; and in all things bring them back to the thing which we should be ultimately thankful for: Our place at God’s table as His sons and daughters.