“Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.”
Proverbs 11:25

Here is something most don’t know about me–I grow bougainvilleas in our back yard. Oklahoma is far from Hawaii where Cheryl and I marvel at the massive plants growing along the roads and at the resorts in Maui. But, somehow, with the miracle of Miracle Grow, they thrive around our pool. (Note: We have an arrangement–I grow the plants. Cheryl gets the glory.)

On a very hot August day, one of my granddaughters noticed the flowers looking sad with drooping stems. She knew just what they needed– water. Although my granddaughter was young, this was a task she believed she could do, a need she could meet. I supervised as she carefully gave each plant a large plastic pitcher of water. Although she did not receive a “thank you” from any of the plants, I could tell she found special joy in watering them. We waited in the shade to see if the plants would revive. My granddaughter looked up at me and suggested she might just move in with us. In this way, she could water the plants every day. She received so much pleasure in her simple task of service that she wanted to do it again and again and again.

I explained how God created plants to take the nourishment into their roots. We discussed the concepts of xylem and phloem, and how water and nutrients are taken in by the roots in the soil and transported through the stems to the furthest shoots and flowers. Before long, the plants perked up and it didn’t take me long to recognize the valuable lesson we were both learning. Within an hour, not only were the plants vigorous, healed of their previous need of water, but the experience was satisfying and healing to those of us who watered them.

In his daily devotional, Morning and Evening, Charles Spurgeon wrote for the morning of August 21, “…one who waters will himself be watered.” (Proverbs 11:25) In his analysis, he applies this simple concept of watering to human interaction.

We are taught the great lesson that to get, we must give; to accumulate, we must scatter; to make ourselves happy, we must make others happy; and in order to become spiritually vigorous, we must seek the spiritual good of others. In watering others, we are ourselves watered. How? Our efforts to be useful bring out our powers for usefulness. We have latent talents and unused gifts that become apparent by exercise. Our strength for work is even hidden from ourselves until we take our stand and fight the Lord’s battles or climb the mountains of difficulty. We do not know what tender sympathies we possess until we try to dry the widow’s tears and soothe the orphan’s grief. We often find in attempting to teach others that we gain instruction for ourselves. What gracious lessons some of us have learned in visiting the sick! So watering others makes us humble. We discover how much grace there is where we had not looked for it…

How do parents help their children mature in this way? How do we help them discover gifts that they have not yet seen in themselves? Effective training always consists of instruction, modeling and practice. In giving opportunities to our children to serve, and to find joy in serving, we are connecting them with a desire that God has already placed in them. We are all born with a desire to contribute, to be valued and know that our life matters. And like my granddaughter, when we discover this, we will look for opportunities to do it again and again.