Are You A Welcoming Family
Joey & Carla Link
November 13, 2019
You are having your small group from church over for a family picnic and swim in your pool. Children of all ages are coming. Your kids are 5, 8, and 12 yrs. old. You asked your kids to answer the door when people arrived as you are busy in the kitchen and your husband is in the back yard getting things ready. You are really surprised when you hear your 12 year old daughter’s ruderesponse to a greeting from one of the moms in the group.
Do your kids know how to welcome people into your home and into your family’s life? Do you prepare your kids to greet and talk to people at events such as the one above? Do your kids stop what they are doing when people come to visit you in your home, stand up and go to them and graciously say “hi”, or do they wait for you to call them over and prompt them to greet the guests in your home?
- Do your kids look people in the eye when they are speaking to them? During Carla’s lengthy hospital stay after the car accident we were in several years ago, our kids were frequent visitors to see her. After a few weeks a doctor stopped me in the hall and told me what a fine son we had and he would go far in the world. When I asked him why he thought that, his response was he appreciated that Michael looked him in the eye when he talked to him. He said few kids his age did that. At the time Michael was a senior in college! Teach your kids to look people in the eye when they are speaking to them and when they are being spoken to.
- Do they know how to properly shake hands with an adult? When a child puts out his hand to shake an adult’s hand and does so firmly he will get respect from the adult.
- Have they learned to carry on a conversation with someone older than they are and be genuinely interested in what that person was talking about? We travel with our ministry to families and often stayed in homes of people our kids didn’t know when they were little. We worked with them before our arrival on questions they could ask the adults and how to respond to questions they might be asked. They rarely disappointed us in the way they conversed with others.
All of these are key characteristics for maturing and learning social skills your children will need when they grow up. With today’s communication being done through texting, kids are not getting the valuable social skills they will eventually need to effectively communicate.
In conversations kids and teens are usually either self-focused or others-focused. It’s either all about them or they learn to be interested in the feelings and needs of others. A key concept I (Joey) learned as a youth pastor was, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” Either your children learn to care about others or others won’t be interested or care about them.
Do your kids care about others vs. themselves?
- Do they care when someone in the family is emotionally or physically hurt?
- Are they sympathetic to others feelings or is it all about what they think and feel?
- Are they more interested in getting their own way or do they show interest in what others want to do?
- Are they more likely to dominate the conversation or be uninterested in what is being talked about and possibly change the topic or get out of the conversation?
The priority God puts on caring about others before yourself:
- If Rahab hadn’t learned to be hospitable to people, Joshua’s spies would not have had a place of protection (Joshua 2:12-14)
- God’s punishment for Nabal for refusing to offer hospitality to David’s men was death!(1 Samuel 25:2-39).
- One of the responsibilities of elders and deacons was to be hospitable (1Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:8).
- Jesus modeled hospitality by feeding a crowd of 5000 eager to hear his teaching! (Matthew 15:32-39).
By sharing what you have, you never know who you are sharing it with. Two men walking on the road to Emmaus invited a stranger to eat with them and found themselves eating with Jesus (Luke 24:13-32).
Peter tells us in (1 Peter 4:8-10) to serve one another in love “without grumbling.”
If your kids don’t have a good attitude about people coming to visit you or them, they have not genuinely learned to love others which is a foundation teaching of Jesus to be able to be used by God to serve others and they will miss a blessing by God.
I will never forget one time when we were on one of our summer ministry trips driving on a highway in TN. This was before cellphones were common. A car was stopped on the side of the road with a lady sitting in the front seat. I passed her then pulled over and backed up to her car to see if we could help. It was apparent that she was disoriented. We drove to the next exit and called the highway patrol, then went on our way.
Later that night I wanted to know if the lady had gotten the help she needed so I called the highway patrol to inquire. They told me she had dementia and had left a care facility and they had officers out looking for her going a different direction from where we found her. Because of our call and concern they located her and got her back to the treatment facility where she needed to be.
I could have had an attitude about the extra time it would take and not stopped or taken the time to get off on an exit and find a place to call for help, but I had learned a long time before that to put others’ needs before my own so I stopped. My kids learned a huge lesson that day as we talked about it and discussed what could have happened to that lady had I not stopped even though I didn’t want to. What do you think that experience taught our kids?
Some discussion questions to talk about with your kids:
- Have your kids grade themselves on how well they care about their siblings compared to themselves
- Have your kids grade themselves on how well they care about their friends compared to their siblings
- Have your kids grade themselves on how well they care about what you think is important for them to do vs. what they want to do
- Have your kids grade themselves on how well they care about how God wants them to live out their lives vs. how they want to live
- Have your kids grade each other in these areas as well (you should grade them too but don’t let your kids grade you. How you and your spouse are doing in these areas should be a conversation just between the two of you)
Talking about how they graded themselves and each other should prove to be a lively discussion for your family! Whenever you feel one of your kid(s) is being selfish in the way they think and act, having them grade themselves and comparing those grades with the ones you give them is always a point of reference to get them to think about how to reach out to others.
“Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.”
1 Corinthians 10:24 (ESV)