My boys and I just returned from a five day mission trip with the youth group my best friend pastors. We spent the week working our tails off and learning some extremely valuable lessons along the way.

I thought I’d share them with you here.

1. When the work gets hard just think about who it’s helping.

The Bible tells us in the book of Philippians that we should look not only to our own interests but also to the interests of others. This is a tall order for kids in our “look out for #1” society.

The guy who shared this as the lesson he learned began the trip by letting us know he didn’t want to get dirty, but by the end of the week he had trimmed trees, hauled trash, scrubbed toilets, wacked weeds, etc. and all with a great attitude.

2. Time spent complaining could be time spent finishing the job.

Wow. I think I need to remember that one next time I have a pile of dishes to do.

Complaining isn’t helpful or productive. We often let our kids (and ourselves) get away with it but it’s a terrible habit and a hard one to break.

3. We volunteer our time to benefit others not ourselves.

One of the kids on the trip asked his dad how much allowance he would get for all the work he had done throughout the week. He hung his head when his dad’s answer was, “None”.

It was a tough lesson and he wasn’t happy about it, but better to learn it now than go into adulthood with a “what’s in it for me?” attitude.

4. Just take things one step at a time.

One of our tasks for the week was to remove rocks and sticks from a paintball field then mow and weed eat it. We began by literally filling buckets with rocks and then carrying them to a big pile on the other side of the fence. We felt like we would never finish but we did.

Learning to take a big overwhelming job, break it down into manageable pieces and keep at it until it’s done is a life skill that will serve our kids over and over again.

Mission trips provide opportunities for our kids to get out of their comfort zones and be a blessing to others. And when they do that they have to stretch and grow. The result is life changing.

Are these lessons your kids have learned? How will their lives (and your life) be better when/if they do?

I hope you’re sending your kids on mission trips when you can. Better yet I hope you’re going with them.