I was recently sent a copy of Ann Kroeker's new book, Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families. What a great resource and encouragement to the family that wants to make some changes towards a life less frenzied. I have an extra copy of this book and I'm excited to be able to give it away this week! Leave a comment on THIS POST and I'll draw and post the winner next Monday. And, if you tweet or post about this giveaway, come back and leave me a second comment for a second entry.
Ann and I emailed a little last week and I was able to ask her a few questions about the book. Over the past few years our family has been working towards deliberately slowing down so I used my chance to question her to ask for some specifics about how she made changes in her family. I'm going to post one of her great answers to my question today and another tomorrow. You can also find Ann at her personal blog as well as the website for her book, NotSoFastBook.com. Enjoy!
Stephanie: In your chapter “What are We Trying to Achieve?”, you mention that our call to greatness - to be like Christ and to be a servant first of all - is so different from the world’s view of greatness, whether is education, power, money, etc. Can you give some examples of how you model this for your children or have taught them these truths? I have a 5, 3, and 2 year old and we hear a lot of “me first” around here at this age.
Ann: “Me first” isn’t limited to the preschool set. I feel it, too … the tug toward “me first.” But it’s why we need Jesus, isn’t it? Because of our self-centered, sinful nature? And we have to keep on this all the time or we’ll all slide right back into selfishness. And by “all the time,” I mean All. The. Time. Every single day. And by “we’ll all,” I mean every single one of us—I, as well as the kids. We need to figure out what it is to walk with Christ and live like Him vs. what it is to live according to the world’s view of greatness. Then we need to remind ourselves over and over to indeed walk with Christ and live like Him, yielded to Him.
At a spiritual level, I think there’s a lot that the Holy Spirit has to do in our kids—in all of us—to keep our eyes on the prize. So praying for that Christ-centered vision is a powerful first step so that He can be free to change us. I think that God can not only get us thinking more biblically/Christianly about serving people, but also put service, other-centered ideas and opportunities in our path.
At a practical level, any way we can get their eyes off their own little world is helpful.
When our kids were little, we would do things like simply encouraging them to let others go first (and applauding them when they did). For example, we have the kids hold the door for others at the library. Or at the grocery checkout, if we notice that someone behind us has a few items and we have a full cart, we can take the opportunity to invite the person to take our spot—and because we seek to live “not so fast,” we often have the time to do that without negatively impacting our schedule.
Learning to notice other people and their needs starts very simply. Small, everyday choices gradually reinforce the mindset that it’s better not to grab for the first thing at the potluck dinner, race to be first in line, or shove someone out of the way to get the next piece of candy tossed from a float in the parade. We keep reminding them to serve, to look out not only for our own needs, but also for the needs of others.
Some neighbors who are dear friends have gone through a very difficult time dealing with cancer. They were overwhelmed with all that had to be done to keep up with their son’s medical needs. It was too much to try to keep up with lawn mowing, shopping, laundry, and cleaning when they were always at the hospital. The kids worked with my husband and me to serve them as best we could—and other friends helped, as well. We offered to feed their pets, do laundry, and pick up groceries. Our involvement in their lives caused the kids to think about our friends at the grocery store. Instead of obsessing over the chocolate-coated cereal and begging for it (or in addition to that), they’d look at something and think of our friends. “Should we call and find out if they need any orange juice?” they’d ask.
We try to point out and praise any servant-minded action we observe in the home. It’s easy to get excited about an academic honor or a sports achievement, but it’s important to communicate to our kids the high value we place on serving. We call attention to it within our family and thank them. We remind them that it is helping out the family and pleasing the Lord. A small example from the other day: our youngest wanted to fill everyone’s water glasses at dinner. For some reason, one of the older kids was aggravated and wanted to pour her own glass. But we pointed out that he was serving her. “Can’t you let him serve? It’s a good thing!” He glowed, and she acknowledged that it was indeed a good thing and accepted his offer to pour.
We’ve pitched in at church moving chairs, encouraging all the kids to help instead of letting them run around and play. We all loaded up items from a church garage sale for donation—the kids toted boxes to the truck along with the adults. We try to look for ways to give financially, which is another way to focus on others (though I don’t like to talk too much about that publically, as it seems too much like letting the left hand know what the right is doing.)
Praying for others is also another way to get the focus off of ourselves and on the Lord’s work in others’ lives. Regularly bringing other people’s requests and needs to the Lord reminds us to serve people by talking with the Lord on their behalf. It reminds kids—well, again, it reminds all of us—that life and prayer are not always centered on us and our needs.
I recently memorized Philippians 2:1-11, which includes “[I]n humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who…made himself nothing, taking the very nature a servant.” Memorizing and reciting this is keeping it fresh in my mind. The kids know portions of it, as well. So we talk about living it out.
I think we all need ongoing, daily reminders, because the world is going to be telling us to do the opposite. In fact, billions of dollars are invested in getting us to focus on our own interests and desires. We need to counteract that with God’s idea of success by talking, praying, memorizing, and modeling it.
Thanks, Ann! Come back tomorrow for another brief Q&A with Ann, and don't forget to leave a comment to enter to win this book.