“The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the Lord hath made even both of them” (Proverbs 20:12).
I’ve always been amazed at what children don’t see. They can step over an obstacle in the middle of the floor and not even notice it was there. Clothes on the floor, lidless toothpaste tubes, over-flowing wastebaskets – all are apparently invisible to many children.
Children need to be trained to see before they can learn to take initiative. Plant different opportunities throughout the house: a shoe in the middle of the hall, a dripping faucet, a dirty dish on the table, a milk jug out of the fridge, the front door open, toys all over the living room floor, a newspaper spread out on the sofa, etc.
Then send your children on an “opportunity hunt.” How many tasks can they find to accomplish in the next fifteen minutes? Make this a contest, if you want, and offer a small prize to the winner, or have the children search and work together, with a special treat for everyone when the hunt is completed.
As the children discover an opportunity to take initiative, they should complete the task and then report to you to tell you what they have done. They can then go back to hunting for the next opportunity, while you write down on a white or blackboard, if possible, the jobs each person finds and completes.
If they take this hunt seriously, your children will probably find more than just the tasks you purposely set up throughout the house. Applaud them when they discover these extra opportunities, and add them to your list of completed jobs.
After fifteen minutes, gather everyone together and review the list of tasks they completed. Discuss the opportunities to serve that come up during the day — items that are out of place, people that might need help, areas of the house or yard that need tidying. Talk about how God has given us eyes to better serve Him, and how He has called us to serve Him by serving others.
Share a small treat with everyone while you talk. When done, watch to see if any children take the initiative to help clean up. If they do, praise them! If no one does, stop and instruct them, and have them help you.
Throughout the day, and in the days to come, declare 5-minute “opportunity hunts.” Have the children look for ways they can help, and continue to record and discuss the jobs they complete. If desired, offer a small prize occasionally for the most jobs completed. Help children who still have trouble seeing needs. Walk through the house with them and ask questions that will lead them to tasks they can complete. With training, children will learn to see needs and meet them.