“Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”
Over the years I've thought a lot about what I hoped my kids were learning from my wife and I. It has often caused me to intentionally start certain practices as a family; often times those practices only lasted for a season, but I hope they had an impact nonetheless. It seems each new stage of life brings different things to mind that I hope my kids learn from my wife and I.
I am not perfect and neither is my wife. To be sure, we have made mistakes as spouses and as parents. I often wonder what my kids will complain about regarding their upbringing in 10 or 15 years. I also wonder what "mistakes" we made will become their own "virtues" when they have kids. Some kids have more to complain about when it comes to their parents than others. I hope we have given them less to complain about than most. However, my kids have let us know about our shortcomings many times. Being the children of a pastor has its own challenges. I have done my level best to protect my kids from the unfair expectations that are often placed on PKs (Pastor's Kids), but undoubtedly they have experienced some of that and more. While I could pontificate about many things I hope my kids have learned from us, today I am thinking about hospitality.
We have had people in our home, often living with us, since we got married. I don't think we have the gift of hospitality, I think we learned how to be hospitable. Our hospitality has allowed to invest in the lives of other people more than almost anything we do. It has taken many forms over the years. Sometimes it was having people live with us, sometimes it was parties, UFC fight nights, Thanksgiving gatherings, Bible studies, or a host of other things. I love it, it also completely wares me out. After several hours of being with people I am often exhausted. I don't mean physically tired, I mean worn down from being with people. I need alone time! I'm a functional extrovert, but being with people wares me down fast. So why do it?
I do it because the rewards of loving others and being loved by others far outweighs the exhaustion. I do it because God tells us to (1 Peter 4:8-9) and obedience is an act of worship towards the God who saved me. I do it because there is great joy in being with people created in the image of God, and I love God's creativity. I do it because there is joy in giving someone a roof over their head, especially if they are in need. I do it because it gives me the opportunity to do ministry alongside my wife. Yep, I've grown to love it!
No matter what my kids do with their lives, I hope they have learned the value of hospitality. I recognize that they may find it annoying at times, but I hope that at some point they recognize the good that comes from simply having people in your home and being generous with what God has given. Our home isn't just a place we sleep, it is a gift given to us by God and like all gifts God gives us, it is meant to be shared.
John Byrne is a pastor who has been spouting off his opinions his entire life (just ask his mom). This little blog is his venue for continuing in this tradition.