Teaching Hospitality

Teaching Hospitality - Parenting Like Hannah

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I love the story of Abraham entertaining angels in the Bible. As a child, I was fascinated by the idea you could invite strangers into your home for a meal and find out they were angels. Unfortunately, entertaining is quickly becoming another casualty of our busy lives. Our children are not learning how to show hospitality to others. Having people in our homes is not necessarily high on our lists of things we attempt to accomplish as we pursue a Christian lifestyle. Hospitality to others is so important to God though, He makes the practice of it one of the qualifications for being an elder.

Children learn so much when they grow up in a family where hospitality is practiced regularly. They learn how to make “outsiders” to their family feel as if they are a part of the family. Hopefully, they begin to realize entertaining is not about how nice your home is or how good the food tastes, but it is about the interaction between the hosts and the guests. Practical skills are also learned. By entertaining, I have learned how to make a large group of very different people feel comfortable together, how to cook for a lot of people with little hassle and how to entertain with little or no money or space. (We had a full Thanksgiving one year in New York City for 15 people in 250 square feet!)

Now I have to admit, I am a people person. I also grew up in a house where there was always at least one extra person at the table. For me, entertaining people is enjoyable. We have had parties when we invite our entire street over or have had sit down meals where we had people sitting at tables in three different rooms. For those of you who may be more introverted or if you are worried about the thought of bringing others into your home, I would suggest starting on a much smaller scale.

As children, we learned as much from having a foreign exchange student over for lunch as we did from large parties. Cooking does not even have to be a part of entertaining. One of my most popular parties is to buy vanilla ice cream and lots of different toppings. Everyone is encouraged to make their own sundaes. Brunches are also great easy meals to cook and serve.

To really teach your child how to entertain, start involving him in the entire process. Have him help plan who your family should invite, when they should come to your house, what you will eat. Have her help you look through recipes or plan the ice cream toppings to purchase. Have him help clean and decorate the house. Have everyone help cook or set up for the party or dinner.

I especially hope you encourage your child to interact with the adult guests. Children’s tables are sometimes unavoidable, but I think children miss out on a lot when they are constantly segregated from adults. I believe a large part of my interest in travel and missions arises from dinner conversations with missionaries and foreign exchange students. My daughter can now converse as easily with an adult as she can with another child.

My daughter has come to enjoy entertaining as much as I do. Hopefully when she is an adult, her home will be as welcoming to guests as was Abraham’s tent. I hope your family will invite someone over this week. Grab some take-out food and have a dinner party. You may be surprised how you are blessed by expressing your hospitality to others. I’m sure Abraham was!

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Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deuteronomy 11:18-19 NIV)