I love Angela’s “hands on” approach to discipleship. She sees the importance of having your kids with you, teaching them along the way. It’s important for kids to know the value of serving God and that it can be done in everyday living. Join us for the Discipleship Corner. A very special series of articles dedicated specifically to teaching moms how to effectively disciple their kids. If you missed the first one in the series, you can check out, Seven Keys to Effective Family Discipleship. I hope you’ll join us every week for a new post!
I grew up in a home that didn’t always practice hospitality to others, and when we did, there was often stress attached. Maybe partly because of this, the Lord has given me a passion for opening our home and our hearts to others.
I see hospitality as a prime way I can teach my children about the character of God, about His love for us, and an incredible way to practice gospel principles in everyday life. Here are just a few ways I’ve seen this work effectively in our home.
TAKE THEM WITH YOU
Whenever possible, take your children along for errands, appointments, and even work commitments. If I’m meeting a young woman for discipleship/mentoring outside our home, I will often take one of my older children along with a book and give them a seat nearby.
If it’s at our home, they help clean and prepare and then have an activity to keep them busy while we visit, or if they’re old enough, they join the fellowship.
As a small business owner, I not only bring one or more of my children, but I put them to work on a photography job. They are some of the best prop/gear/subject wranglers I’ve had the privilege to work with!
Over the years, “payment” has ranged from a treat/date on the way home to an actual cash payment. Not only have others been blessed by my children, but I’ve actually gained clients who appreciated the experience, and I’ve been able to encourage others by the example.
TRAIN IN ADVANCE
I can’t just take my kiddos on a shoot or to a meeting at a nice location and expect them to know how to behave. We talk about and practice expectations at home.
When they were smaller, we practiced looking others in the eye, shaking a hand and introducing ourselves properly. Because we school at home, we also have the opportunity to practice reading or working quietly on a subject assignment, which can come in handy if they need to attend a “grown-up” meeting or event with us and entertain themselves.
Recently, I took my younger boys to a ladies’ breakfast/prayer meeting at a local restaurant. They sat at a nearby table with their Math homework.
I want to help you learn how to disciple your kids. Subscribe below to make sure you get each post in the Discipleship Corner Series
I previewed the menu and gave them several options that fit our diet and budget, and they enjoyed the outing and the independence. They also got to see their mama and other godly ladies setting an example of kind conversation and prayer with local restaurant employees!
CREATE HEALTHY MARGIN
When you’re taking your children with you and opening your home, it’s also really important to create boundaries and schedule down-time so that you are able to train them, and so that you are able to rest as a family.
We’ve been in seasons when fellowship opportunities were rich (homeschool co-ops, church outings, youth group activities and parties galore), and we’ve been in seasons when that wasn’t the case.
I have definitely seen our children grow in spiritual maturity just as much during times when we’ve “pulled in” and taken quiet time at home to practice what I call “everyday hospitality.”
Making hot tea and lighting candles, having a snack and playing board games, reading together or doing family or individual Bible study and journaling, have all created powerful opportunities for us and our children to connect with each other and with God.
This gives them the opportunity to develop into the kind of Kingdom-minded kids who will embrace hospitality. (It also gives us the chance to operate in our individual personalities/gifting. Some of us are outgoing and on-the-go as part of our nature, others need time to REST before socializing!)
Take time to block off “nothing time” in your family’s calendar, especially during busy seasons with holiday, church, and school commitments.
GIVE EACH FAMILY MEMBER VALUE
This can happen in a few ways. First of all, every child should have at least one job around the home that is vital to your family’s priorities. In our home, we keep chores for at least one month at a time or until “mastery.”
This means that if at the end of a month, a child isn’t doing the job consistently and well, with a good attitude, they continue with the same job. They can also request continuing if they particularly enjoy it.
Let them know how important their job is, and affirm them when they do it well. Personally, I do not give “reward” for these chores. There are some things we must do in order to function well in a home, and mom and dad don’t get rewarded for that. (We do often offer a compensation when a child goes above and beyond, or takes on an additional task that needs doing.)
Second, whenever we welcome others into our home, it’s “all hands on deck.” Because hospitality is important to us, the whole family is expected to help our home be a clean and welcoming place for others.
This might mean a special cleaning of bathrooms, helping make/plate a snack, or offering guests a glass of water when they arrive. It’s been amazing to watch even my nine year old do this without prompting over the years.
We teach our kiddos that their relationship with those God brings into our lives is valuable, too.
Older friends might miss long-distance grandkids and our children can bless them. Young mamas might be blessed by a hand with their toddlers.
One of my favorite opportunities was a season where we hosted a weekly Bible study for young moms. Each week our children served by pulling out a few big bins of toddler-safe toys we’d tucked away, and playing while the moms had a much-needed time of refreshment.
That was years ago, and we’ve been told that time of serving encourages those moms in their own parenting even today.
GIVE OTHERS VALUE
When we’ve learned how valuable we are to God and to those around us, we also can learn that others are valuable.
Pray together for others, specifically bringing their needs to the Lord as a family. (Be careful with this one – learning to discern what to repeat is a skill that takes time and spiritual maturity to develop – we learned this by experience a time or two!)
Before visiting with someone else we talk a little bit about that person and often will come up with one or two questions our children can ask to get to know them and show them interest and value.
We also “practice” ways to respond if asked questions in return. As our kids get older, we talked more specifically about how this person can be ministered to, as well as important information about them that God may want to use in our children’s lives.
WHEN NEEDED, RETREAT!
One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do is to leave an outing because my children’s behavior wasn’t honoring.
It happened a couple times with toddlers in restaurants, once on a field trip, and once in a drive-through after we’d waited for quite a while in a lengthy line, and before we could order.
But as “painful” as the experience seemed in the moment, it left an impression that helped to guide behavior in future situations. (And when there was a precarious situation, a quick reminder of the “last time” nipped problems in the bud most of the time!).
Once, an older person told me they appreciated the willingness to “do the hard thing” in parenting our children. We can’t parent for others’ approval, but it is powerful when a parenting choice we make is able to set an example for others.
The hardest part, I think, is keeping a good attitude and a long-term perspective when “retreating” results in sacrifice or slight embarrassment on our part as parents!
How about you? Have you ever thought of hospitality as a way to disciple your kids? How might this change what you are currently doing? Comment below and let me know! I’d love to hear from you!
Angela Sackett is a wife, mama of five, and daughter of the King.
She’s a foodie, a lover of words (written, spoken, and sung), and a writer/speaker/photographer who’s committed to capturing “God-light,” crafting words and images to reflect God’s glory and grace for those around her. She’s passionate about opening her heart and home, inspiring women to tell the story of Truth – of God at work in His creation. As a full-time ministry wife and home educator, her “sharp edge” is constantly being refined as a more useful tool of grace in the hands of her Papa.
Angela writes for women at Dancing With My Father, and focuses on hospitality as a vehicle for the gospel at Sal et Lux.