The character trait of Availability is the heart attitude we need to have if God is to use us in His purposes. We need to be available first to God, and then to others. For this to happen on a day to day basis we need to lay aside our own ambition and be ready to serve others.
Our family is a training ground for living in the family of God, His Church. As we learn to be available to the members of our family, we will learn the heart and habits of being available to our brothers and sisters in the Lord, and the needs of the world.
Being ready to serve your parents means that you are prepared to stop whatever you are doing and come when they call. So you could say, that to have
you must first of all have an available heart.
An available heart happens because we know that other people are more precious than whatever it is that I want to do.
Jesus’ call to us, as it was to his disciples, Let any man come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
We know that 12 men took Jesus up on this call but when Peter denied the Lord as the cock crowed, he turned his back on being available to his Lord. He protected himself from the cost that he foresaw as being a follower of Jesus. Do we do the same – do we predict the cost and turn away?
A generation or two ago, a decision to be a missionary, was seen as a normal type of commitment a young Christian would make. We need to stir our children’s hearts to see the needs of the world – the world could be our town, our own nation or the many nations of the world and create in them a heart that is ready to serve the needy. The greatest service we can do to mankind is to introduce one person at a time to the love of Jesus.
It is easy to know what serving looks like when we want to serve people outside of our home but when we see the family as our initial training ground we can wonder what this looks like. How do our children serve one another? To serve means to give your time, money, energy and talents to make someone else successful.
- to help someone do something they are struggling with
- to put aside your planned activity to play with someone
- to pre-empt people's needs and get things for them
- to make time to show someone something you are skilled at
- to do chores willingly
- to come when called
- to stop doing what you are doing to listen to someone
This type of attitude will make for beautiful, harmonious family living, it will build a strong family identity. A teenager who has this heart attitude will help out in the family not pull against it or grumble when asked to do something. A scholarly student will be able to see needs even as he is absorbed in his book. A social girl will be able to balance her social "needs" with the needs of the family. A preschooler can be taught not to be so demanding and to wait.
There would be many other situations in everyday living that our children can be encouraged to be available; to do something that makes their sibling (or parent) successful.
Make sure than when one of your children gives themselves to a family member that you thank them, not just for the task they completed but for the heart of being available. Let them know that you know they sacrificed something to be able to do that for the family. Read more on
giving our children praise
for their character not their actions. Over-commitment Debt Emotional insecurity
We live very busy lives, and a lot of our busyness has to do with the debt we take on. We have to work hard to pay that debt off. But it isn’t just money issues that make us busy. As we search for fulfillment or acknowledgment we take on so many commitments. We find ourselves stretched to the full.
What we need is “margins” in our lives. We need to budget all our resources – our time, our energy, our money, and our talents. If we use every little bit of time and energy (let alone money) on the things of everyday commitments we will not have anything left to give to the people God brings our way.
Do we have time, energy or money to give to people or is our diary full up?
What hinders our children? Most likely it is a me-centered mentality. Children can easily fill their days with me-focused activity. Our children need to see the family as a team, and that they play a major role in that team being successful.
We have taught our children to be aware of others regardless of what their own activity maybe. While watching TV/video or working on the computer they need to be aware of the needs of another sibling or parent. They need to be able to walk away from the video to help a person in need – regardless of how small. The same goes for a book, or a game – to be so absorbed in an activity will mean that a need is not observed. We need to see the needs and then be available to serve those needs.
Another danger of our society, is the popularity of personal mp3 players – we walk around with music pumping into our ears, it isolates us from the world around us. This will limit how we see the needs of those around us, this will limit our options to serve.
The world teaches us that we deserve time
to ourselves – whether we are teenagers, or mums or even dads, we are told that we deserve our private space. This does not flow with this character trait that asks of us to serve others. I am all for time to rest and refresh ourselves but at what cost? It should never be at the cost of other people.
Parents, we should model this balance between sacrificing and serving our family, with taking care of our own physical needs with care. Our children, and teenagers in particular are watching us. If we are demanding, regardless of the cost, things such as time to ourselves, then that is the very model our teenagers will copy. If we want our children to consider the needs of other people, to be available to meet those needs even at personal sacrifice we need to step up to the mark and live this type of life ourselves.
Responsibility towards the family, towards others, always comes before our “right” for ourselves.
Our commitment to this character trait of Availability will have us serve people even when things get hard - when we are tired, when there is something better to do, when we just plain don’t want to! Serving others needs to be a heart response. I am reminded of the verse that says
Rejoice always, and again I say rejoice.
Let your gentleness be known to all men.
The Lord is near.
It is because the Lord is near that we can serve with a joyful heart.
Girl Guides was a big part of my growing up so this motto, Be Prepared, was nearly a family motto.
I spent the early years of our marriage preparing myself for the coming years. I became familiar with recipes that I could serve for a dinner party, recipes that could be prepared even with little children under foot. I prepared myself by establishing housework routines and habits so that when we had a family the house would still hum along.
If we are to be used by God in any capacity we need to be prepared. We may not have any idea what God has in mind for us but we can enhance our talents and clean up our habits so that when He calls we are ready.
It can be helpful to discuss with our children that the opportunities that they have to serve in their family is preparing them to serve in the wider world at a later stage. Make the motto, Be prepared, your motto too. Read more about
It is easy to see the needs around us but it is when we are propelled into action that a character really is a part of our lives. Being available means not only being willing to serve but to actually find solutions, to give time; to help not hide.
Everybody, Somebody, Nobody and AnybodyOnce upon a time, there were four children; their names were Everybody, Somebody, Nobody and Anybody
Whenever there was an important job to be done, Everybody was sure that somebody would do it.
Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.
When Nobody did it, Everybody got angry because it was Everybody’s job.
Everybody thought that Somebody would do it, but Nobody realized that Nobody would do it.
So consequently Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done in the first place!
When we studied the character of Availability we read the story of the little dutch boy with his finger in the dyke. He didn’t wait to be asked to fix this problem, he saw it and he acted. Here is another motto our family enjoyed.
Just do it!
I found this a great opportunity to talk to our children about Stranger Danger. They need to know that they are not to be available to strangers – even if the stranger has a valid need such as a lost dog, or a house near here etc. Though our children are taught to be obedient, and come with a willing heart they need to know the right authorities in their lives, and they need to be able to discern the danger when in a situation outside of these authorities.
Of course, as with any character trait we need to keep things in balance. We can make ourselves so over available to people that we get run down and we become of no use to anyone. We need to know our boundaries; we need to know how to say, “no”, we need to know our priorities.
All character traits are to work in balance with each other. We can not be so available to others that we neglect our Responsibilities, that would not be showing Wisdom. We need to Discern real needs compared with situations where people are not functioning in their responsibilities and hence appear to “need” you. We need to be Cautious, such as discussed with Stranger Danger. We need to show
at times and not take over other people’s responsibilities even under the guise of serving.
Families who place priority on each other’s needs
foster an atmosphere of peace in the home.
This peace gives a family stability in hard times.
Live life with your kids!