Today we wrap up our series on making the most of time around the table. Scroll down if you missed the posts about how to STORE UP fun family memories and SHARE God’s Word.
Now that we’ve filled these little hearts with the seeds of God’s Word, the next step is to water the seeds we’ve planted and help shape those hearts to be imitators of Christ. Our focus today is on character development and putting hands and feet to the Christian values we teach.
There are many, many ways to do this! Some of the values we would like to instill in our children are the power of prayer, living out the fruits of the Spirit, and doing the work that God has given us with diligence and for His glory. Here are a couple ways to communicate those particular values in your home:
Use Time at the Table to Pray for Others
Pray for missionaries, pastors, teachers, neighbors, classmates, our military, our president, children you sponsor, etc. There is immeasurable worth in teaching your children to see the needs of others and intercede to the Lord on their behalf. Besides being a part of God’s work and seeing His answers to prayer, it naturally fills our hearts with gratitude for all of our blessings.
There are many ways to accomplish this. You can put names on slips of paper and stick them in a small box to keep at the table. Have everyone pick out one name to pray for. My son made one in school like this. (They are available from Oriental Trading Company here.) His teacher filled it with the names of his classmates, then on his own he added the names of friends from church and the neighborhood. He loves it!
Another idea is to take all the Christmas cards you received in December and put them in a shoebox or basket near the dining room table. Pull one out each day to pray for a different family through the whole year. You can also use this cute idea from Jennifer at Dimples & Tangles: Cut out photos from family or friends and paste them on popsicle sticks. Pick out one stick a day and pray for that person.
Another benefit of praying for others together at the table is that it gives everyone in the family opportunities to pray aloud. Throne of Grace offers many great sets of prayer cards that can be used to encourage and motivate family prayer. We keep our personalized set of How to Pray for Your Sponsored Child to remind us to pray for the child we support in Haiti through World Vision. How to Pray for Missionaries, How to Pray for Your Pastor, or How to Pray for Your Teachers could also be used to help direct prayer time together at meals.
Use Time at the Table to Develop Character
It’s no surprise that time together over meals provides time to share about our days and process our responses to them. As parents, we can praise evidences of Christ-like character in our children and teach and train those hearts where it is absent. Focus on a different godly character trait per week or per month. Discuss, read examples from scripture, and share ways those traits have been displayed that day.
You can find a great tool for instilling godly character on the Duggar Family’s website here. They’ve created a calendar with a different character trait defined for each day along with a corresponding Bible verse.
Another way we like to shape the little hearts at our table is to spend time once a week going through the folders that come home from school with the kids’ completed school work. By sharing the work at the table, each child gets a chance to have a little spotlight and receive “public” praise for their diligence and hard work. They enjoy hearing the praise of not only their parents, but siblings as well! (One note I would add here is be sure you don’t use time at the meal time to correct or point out shortcomings in your child’s work. If there are areas of needed improvement, save those discussions for a more private time to avoid shame or embarrassment.)
Well that concludes our series on creative ways to make the most of meal time! We hope you’ve picked up a couple new ideas to bring some fun and faith to the table. Tomorrow one of our fabulous Throne of Grace team members will be sharing a yummy recipe for something else you’ll want to bring to your table…I can’t wait!