Scenic view of trees at camp

Encouraging a Heart for Serving Others

by Tracey Eyster


A word that gets thrown around a lot when it comes to frustration with children is their propensity to have a sense of entitlement. It comes naturally, and it comes early. Watch any group of two-year-olds play together and the act of snatching and you’ll see the verbalization of “mine” is a regular occurrence.

That “me and mine” attitude doesn’t end with toddlerhood, and it is something parents need to consistently teach against as they raise their children to play well, and work well, with others! One of the best ways to get kids out of their own needs (and their own heads) is to help them understand the importance of putting others’ needs above their own.

This can be done as a family by seeking out ways to serve those around you. Possibilities include doing yard work for an elderly neighbor, baking cookies for local firemen, volunteering at a food pantry, or even surprising a sibling by doing a chore for them. 

Since thinking of others and their needs first is not a natural quality we are born with, it truly is a virtue that is best modeled. 

Model it in your own home, find others to model it for your children, and make serving others a family choice. Seek out ways to help your kids learn to approach caring for others as a joy and a privilege.

Pine Cove places a high value on serving others, doing so with enthusiasm and having zero desire to receive a pat on the back for their effort. A sense of entitlement will not be found at Pine Cove.


One of their core values is “others-focused,” and the years embedding that concept into the DNA of Pine Cove has revealed that value is kryptonite to a typical child’s self-entitlement. While at camp, kids learn what it looks like to actively live out an “others-focused” attitude, as serving is modeled daily by the college-aged staff. Even the work crew laboring long hours in a hot kitchen exhibit a joyful “my pleasure” attitude while serving more than 5,000 meals each week at camp.

The craziest thing about watching these staffers live out this others-focused attitude? It’s catching! Suddenly kids that started the week sitting and being served, hop up and start serving. Kids that reveled in the attention showered on them by their counselors soon start showering attention on their peers.

The wanting to be seen, encouraged, and cheered for, during all the camp fun and revelry becomes far less important. Instead, a camper’s personal priority becomes encouraging and caring for fellow campers. In the midst of Biblical teaching and Christ-like serving, the sin nature of man (or should I say child) is pricked by the Holy Spirit and entitlement shrivels.


A transformation in entitled hearts spawns, and “others-focused” becomes an important highlight to the camp experience.

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourself. Romans 12:10

Imagine what a group of children returning home after a week of others-focused modeling—that they have embraced themselves—could do in their home and community.

Posted Mar 5, 2021

Tracey Eyster

Founder and Executive Director of MomLife Today

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