How Mowing a Lawn Changed a Heart

mowing lawn changing heart

David Mulder | Flickr

As we’ve all come to realize at certain points in our life, when we serve, the transformation often comes in our own hearts and not necessarily just in the hearts of those we’ve chosen to serve.

This point is illustrated by a powerful story I recently heard from a former coaching client.

Belinda and Henry* live on a tight-knit street where the kids all play together and the parents enjoy each other’s company. This little utopia was recently broken when one of the dads chose to leave his wife and move in with his girlfriend.

All the neighbors were deeply saddened by this decision, but Henry was furious. He had experienced a similar loss with his own father. When this dad would drop by the home and family he’d abandoned to see his kids, Henry’s feelings of rage would bubble to the surface.

But sometimes the thing that made Henry most angry was the unkempt lawn.

Henry is a man who values honor and integrity. When he saw a fellow dad shirk his responsibilities to love and care for his wife and kids — even down to something as basic as caring for the yard — it made him angry!

After several months of grumbling to Belinda about the neighbor’s behavior, Henry decided that “God calls us to look after the widows and the orphans… and our neighbor who has been abandoned by her husband is a present-day widow.”

This realization was the spark that lit a fire under Henry to mobilize his family into action. He then pulled the family together and shared his plan to support their neighbor and her kids: the whole family would all pitch in once a week to pick up dog poop, pick up sticks, pull weeds, and mow the lawn. And together the family committed to the outdoor maintenance of the house as long as needed.

Henry shared, “I don’t know if any of our actions will draw the wayward father back to his family, or draw the deserted mom to Christ, or plant an “attitude of gratitude” in our kids. All I know is that I needed to follow God’s prompting to serve, and in the process of our family serving our neighbors together MY heart has changed. I’ve found myself becoming softer to both the neighbor who left and to my own father who left.”

Apply It Now:

  • Is there anyone you know — a neighbor or a family friend — who could use a little extra support or care right now?
  • As a family, get together to make a plan how to serve and/or care for that person or family. You might be surprised at how it changes YOUR hearts!

This parenting tip is sponsored by Justin and Katherine Long in honor of their friend and neighbor Matt (wife Jenn, and son, Miles) who helped repair their car without accepting a payment. Matt showed the Long kids and his own son what it looks like to help each other out when needed. Learn more about sponsoring a parenting tip here.

*Not their real names