“Eating, and hospitality in general, is a communion, and any meal worth attending by yourself is improved by the multiples of those with whom it is shared.” ― Jesse Browner
Children are the greatest gift given to mankind, and the job of parenting is a huge task that can provide a lasting legacy for years to come. As such, being a parent is the most important job a person can ever have. The goal of every wise parent is character growth. Character can be instilled in many ways, but the best way to teach character is through example. One way to model character is through showing hospitality.
The responsibility of molding and shaping a child’s character falls into the hands of Mom and Dad. Early childhood experiences are life-changing, and in many ways they determine the kind of adults children grow up to be. Most parents will start planning for their child’s college tuition with the end goal in sight, however, they fail to take into account setting goals for character growth.
One of the best ways to help your child grow into developing Christlike character is by opening your heart and home through the ministry of hospitality. The Bible says to “cheerfully share your home with those who need a place to stay.” (1 Peter 4:9 NLT).
For many people, the idea of opening their home is scary. That’s understandable because it means that you’re bringing people into your “nest” and exposing yourself to potential criticism, hurt or even rejection. Most people don’t want to put themselves in a position of being vulnerable, yet that is exactly what we do when we take this risk.
Hospitality is an attitude of the heart – it’s not about who has the biggest house or best cooking skills. It is showing love in it’s most pure form. At it’s essence, it is putting aside your own needs and serving the needs of others. The heart of a hospitable home is a home filled with warmth, laughter, and love, because this is a home that values relationship and serving the needs of others.
When children see all the hours of work that you give and the love that you put into preparing a meal for your visitors; when they see how warm and gracious you are as you lovingly embrace your guests; when they see how you gently tend to everyone’s needs and serve them; when they hear the laughter or see the tears, they internalize the connection, safety, and selfless love that you are demonstrating. Most importantly – you are showing them the character of Christ right before their little eyes and modeling what it means to love like Jesus.
This, my friends, is one of the greatest gifts that a parent can imprint upon the soft, impressionable heart of a child.
As I look back upon my childhood, I realize how extremely fortunate and blessed I am to have a mother who did this for me. My Mother always included me in the preparations for family and guests. Even though I did not always want to help her (as reading was soo much more exciting!), I appreciate the experiences she taught me. I learned by watching her prepare our home, set the table, cook the food and ensure that everything came out hot and delicious.
I witnessed the labor of love that she freely gave to everyone who came to our home. Her cheerful, generous heart and passion for loving God and helping others has helped mold me into the person I am today. My prayer is that you, too, will be able to experience the joy that comes from knowing and developing the ministry, spirit and heart of hospitality.
I pray that you build deep, abiding relationships where you are able to be vulnerable, honest, accepted, and deeply loved as you grow in your relationship with Him. May your home be a haven of warmth and peace where all experience the loving embrace of His presence, and your children grow to know and desire a deeper relationship with Him.
Dr. Christy Demetriades has a Ph.D. and M.S. in Clinical Psychology and a B.S. in Exercise/Sports Science from Vanguard University. She loves Jesus, has a heart for people and has dedicated her life to serving Him.