Teaching Our Children Self-Denial

It’s link up Wednesday over on Raising Homemakers! So on July 3rd, I began to prepare Alexis (age 5) to be my junior hostess for our 4th of July family picnic. Her role was to greet everyone at the door with a hug, kiss and offer to carry their things into the kitchen. Rather than running off to play with the first child who came through the door – she was to stand post and be ready to warmly greet ALL of our guests and serve them.

We read together pg. 299 of Polished Cornerstones and then read from Luke 14: 12-14 and Hebrews 13:1,2 on hospitality. Then our first guest arrived and she played shy. She would not give a hug or kiss and she would not take my Uncle’s drinks into the kitchen. So I released her from her Jr. Hostess duties and decided we’d work on it another day.

The next day we discussed what happened. Alexis was disappointed that she had lost her opportunity to be my Jr. Hostess. But another opportunity was coming, I had a play date planned.
This time – she stood at the window waiting to greet the mother’s and their children. This time she eagerly took the bowls from the mothers and brought them into the kitchen for me. This time she warmly greeted her friends. This time she lived out the character trait of hospitality.

Will she do it next time? I don’t know – training our children is a process. There will be good and bad days. Some personalities will be easier to train in certain areas than others. Sometimes they will respond to our training and other days they will not. We must seek to know our children – know their strengths and weaknesses. We must seek to drive the sin of selfishness and self-centeredness out of their little hearts and give them opportunities to serve others.

In Luke 9:23 Jesus says, “If any man will come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.”
In the end, Alexis experienced the joy of denying herself. We must continually give our children opportunities to deny themselves. Satan has deceived the next generation of children into believing that joy comes from cartoons, toys, video games and the next great gadget. But true joy comes from walking in the footsteps of our Savior Jesus.
It’s seems to be a dichotomy to say that denying yourself will bring joy. But the best moments in my life were when I was serving Jesus. I have fond memories of missions trips, Bible study groups, gatherings in our home or service projects where the joy of the Lord was so full in my heart it overflowed. It’s the same in motherhood. All my daily sacrifices added up have equaled joy in our home.
This parenting thing is a journey for me. I am learning as my children learn and then sharing it with you. There are a lot of things I am unsure of, but one thing I am sure of, learning self-denial starts in the home. Let’s teach our children to serve others and give them something money can’t buy, true joy.
Walk with the King!

works for me wednesday at we are that family


  1. What a great reminder Courtney! This is a daily walk as parents to show our children Gods ways. If one day we dont succeed we try again. We never give up on our kids, God doesnt give up on us!!

    Today was my 7 yr old first day of 2nd grade, he was so happy to becoming a big boy!!

    Be blessed girl

    My Blog got a makeover check it out!!

  2. I'm really enjoying raising a godly lil homemaker, and am so glad that I read your post linking up a couple weeks back and ordered it myself. It's an awesome book and we are starting our journey; I feel like someone just gave me that instruction manual kids don't come with 😉 Some things I am learning right alongside of my darling girl, and others I am loving imparting to her. This is such a fun, rewarding journey!

  3. How very true, Courtney!!! I have a wonderful (now 15 yr old) daughter of my heart whom I am working with on learning to become a Homemaker. She is such a giving individual already that she makes it a blessing to help her grow. But consistency is hard for her (and so many of us). Thank you for sharing how you are working with your daughter…even though mine is much older…I am taking thoughts from this post and applying it to my work with her! Thank you so much!

    Also thought I would let you know that you are now on my Blog Roll! Thanks for your daily inspiration and encouraging words!

  4. Courtney,

    I enjoyed reading this post. I agree that this lesson is well learned at home and we shouldn't be surprised when we see other children exhibiting Godly behavior, but I am. Because of this, I always make it a point to say something to the mother when I see a child present a character trait like self-denial. Although we are talking about daughters, I also am working w/my oldest son. He is learning how to do something as simple as opening and holding the door for others. It has been a challenge for him because he is so eager to get inside and get going, but he is learning.

  5. Great post Courtney! I love how you emphasize the joy in serving others, while denying ourselves. It makes me more conscious of the "joy opportunities" I give my son, and makes me question: are they self denying, or self serving?
    thanks for this.
    bless you today. I'm praying for you.

  6. What a wonderful practical idea for teaching hospitality and service. I will be implementing this next time we have company over.

  7. This was such a wonderful post. Our kids really need to learn this today. We live in such a selfish society. It's my prayer for my children to learn to serve Jesus and continue to do it all their lives. Thanks for the reminder. I really enjoy your site.

  8. So true! And different children will struggle with different areas at different times in their life. It's great to be able to hone in on their areas of weakness and be able to build them up where they need it!

  9. This is so good! You were wise to not force her on the 4th, and to give her another chance later at the play date. I don't think I would have thought of that; I'd probably have embarrassed my child or the others standing around by making her do it the first time.

    You will always be learning! My youngest is 17, and I'm still learning how this parenting thing is done, especially with a daughter close to young adulthood!

  10. Great post, and I'm glad it worked out so well for her during the play date.

    However, I also understand maybe better the first "fail" (if you want to call it that) on the 4th. Her reluctance to "hug and kiss" (even family) As soon as I read that sentence (that you had asked her to greet each guest with a hug and kiss) I though "uh oh – what about those who have issues with personal space and don't like to hug or kiss, even family?"

    I have one such child (now adult). Some people, at any age, are very uncomfortable with either giving or receiving physical affection with acquaintances.

    Perhaps you could include a lesson in alternative greetings for those who prefer no physical contact on greeting? Even if she has no problem with giving affection, she may run across someone who is not comfortable with receiving it.

  11. I think this is such an important thing to do. People say "kids need to be kids" and I agree. But when did kids being kids mean they were allowed to disrespect adults by interrupting conversations, knocking into people, and thinking only in a "me, me, me!" sense?

    You are doing a wonderful job with your daughter, teaching her bit by bit, not pushing, but encouraging her to have a great heart. Sometimes I too want to just run off with the first friend to chat so I understand!

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