Have you ever wondered what hospitality really means? For my husband and I, we want to teach our children that it means to open our home to friends, family, and even to strangers for conversation and coffee, sharing a meal, or even giving up our bed for a night’s stay! It’s simply sharing our time, our energy, our home, and our love, and should become a natural way of living.
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Teaching children hospitality can be as simple as inviting people into our home for conversation and coffee. Many times our church has had missionaries visit from foreign countries and we’ve never even met them before.
They visit this area and share with us their experiences. And it’s a wonderful learning experience for not only the children, but everyone! The focal point isn’t the coffee or dessert being served; it’s the conversation and friendship that abounds through the hospitality.
The company may have been strangers when they entered our home, but when they leave, they take with them the love and kindness we have shown toward them and leave us with plenty of memories as well.
Hospitality can also be taught to children by preparing a meal for invited guests or even those that happen to drop by. They can get involved by setting the table, maybe mashing potatoes, or entertaining the guests while dinner is being prepared.
Even though our dining table only seats six people, we always manage to have enough room, even for last-minute guests. We just pull up more chairs and squeeze in or we find other places to eat comfortably.
One woman from our church had a wonderful idea about making enough room for guests by getting an old door, putting a tablecloth over it, and setting enough chairs around it to extend her dining table significantly.
However, having a meal for guests doesn’t always mean cooking. I remember we had friends over one time and ordered Chinese! It was easy, we didn’t have to cook, and we didn’t have to do many dishes.
Furthermore, there’s been many times when we just served coffee and hot chocolate or tea to our guests. Food wasn’t even an issue. It was mainly just getting together to share moments of fun. The point is, guests will remember the conversation, laughter, and love even more than the dining arrangements or the food.
Another way of teaching children hospitality is maybe giving up our beds for overnight guests. Again, we have had missionaries come visit our church and homes were needed to host.
My children and my husband and I have often given up our beds and made alternate arrangements to sleep, so our guests could be comfortable. It humbled our hearts to remember not to be selfish and only think of ourselves, but instead to remember the comfort of our invited guests.
There are many ways to show and teach hospitality to children. Sometimes, it’s just the simple ideas and plans that make for better invitations. What is served, whether a meal or snacks; the size of your dining table; or even the fact that you can’t or don’t like to cook doesn’t have to draw us away from being hospitable. People will remember the warmth, care, love, and respect that were offered to them more than anything else.
Written by Rachel G. LaChapelle, reprinted with permission.