The Pastoral Care Pen

The Benefit of Serving Others 

A few weeks ago, a group of Secondary students and staff volunteered to take part in a MAD (Make A Difference) Backyard Blitz project. The afternoon involved gardening and labouring work for a person in need. The yard and garden looked fantastic after a couple of hours of work. However, I was most impressed, not with the results, but with the attitude of all involved. Students were smiling, laughing, asking what needed to be done next, and the team pushed hard to get it all done in time. By the end of the session, there were sore backs and red faces… but some of the students were already asking when they could do it again!

I was reflecting on how important it is that schools, families and communities give young people opportunities to serve others. There are so many benefits to volunteering and community service. Here are just a few…

We forget about ourselves and think of others instead

It’s easy for us to become absorbed in our own needs, stresses, desires and worries, and forget about the bigger picture of life and the people around us. Serving others, particularly someone in need, reminds us of what’s important in life and can help us to see things with a better perspective.

We build resilience

In his article, ‘How Persistence and Grit Helps Kids Succeed’, Michael Grose discusses how it is more important to celebrate and reward character (including grit, determination, perseverance, resilience) rather than talent. When we get used to doing things that are easy for us, we struggle to respond to situations that are more difficult. Getting our hands dirty at Backyard Blitz was a great chance for us to learn new skills, work hard, and persevere to get to the end of a project. Moments like this are important for developing character in young people.

We develop empathy

Exposing young people to stories and lives that are different to their own helps them to develop empathy and a deeper understanding of the journeys of others. We can also model this to our students and children by creating communities and families where caring for others is prioritised. It was fantastic to have such a great staff attendance at our MAD project and demonstrate what care and kindness looks like to our students.

We feel good afterwards!

Doing something good for others releases dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin, which contributes to a positive mood and decreases stress. It seems that God has wired us to serve others! Some of our students reported that they were on the project ‘because their mum signed them up’. By the end of the session, they were cheerful and proud of the work they completed. It’s important that we expose young people to volunteering and serving others and demonstrate to them that it feels good to do good!

I love the way Eugene Peterson summarises this in Philippians 2:3-8 Message version:

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care—then do me a favour: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

I wonder if there are some opportunities this week to partner with your child in doing a good thing for someone else. We hope you will see the benefits of teaching young people how to serve others and help them to build a character of empathy, care, and awareness of those around them.

We’d love to hear of some of the things you get up to! Email Pastoral Care or share your good news stories to our #thelightside campaign by emailing Marketing.

How Persistence and Grit help kids succeed:

For more creating a culture of caring:


Laura Tepe

Secondary Chaplain