Let’s start with a rather simple definition. What is Hospitality? It’s “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” Some synonyms are: ” friendliness, welcome, helpfulness, neighborliness, warmth, kindness.”
Throughout this series, I want to encourage you to endeavor to make hospitality a characteristic of your home-life. Why? Because through the years, we have received so many blessings and benefits from opening up our homes to others. It is a Biblical character trait that should be cultivated in our own lives, and also the lives of our children as we model it for them.
But, you might be thinking, “I’m just way to busy with my little ones to even think about something like hospitality- it overwhelms me just thinking about it!” And I understand that! Having 14 children, my days were always filled with someone needing me, and life was and is indeed very busy. But, I do think that the benefits and blessings outweigh the inconvenience. Stick with me through these next few posts, and we will talk about some ways to make it work with children, practical ideas, and how all of this will benefit your entire family for years to come.
So, Let me begin by giving you a little background of how we started to practice hospitality in our own family.
Hospitality is not something that came easily to me. I grew up in a family that just didn’t do a lot of entertaining. It was rare to have folks into our home for a meal. But after Rick and I were married, It’s something we kind of stumbled upon. It was later that we began to realize what a blessing it was.
Rick was in the air force when we were married and within months of our marriage we had to move to Florida. I guess the main reason we began inviting people into our home was loneliness. We didn’t know anyone at all. I felt compelled that we needed to extend ourselves to others so we wouldn’t be so isolated. I began noticing verses about hospitality in the Scripture. The Bible was very new to me. I was married only 2 years after being saved and had not grown up being exposed to the Bible.
Romans 12: 10,13- says, ” Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.” Sounds pretty important, but we were just beginning to scratch the surface.
Later in this series, I’ll share some of my fears with opening my home to others, but as we did, we began to be excited to develop relationships with others. We mostly had young people over at first- kids younger than our advanced ages of 19 and 21!
Our first child was born when we’d been married for 15 months. Shortly after he was born, Rick got out of the Air force and we moved again- this time to Virginia. So once again we were starting over- we knew no one. We were attending a large church where it was almost impossible to get to know people without getting together with them outside of the church setting, so we continued to look for others to invite over to our home. Our family continued to grow, as we almost always had a new baby every 18 months or so. We began inviting other families we met at the nursery over for supper.
Looking back, we had a pretty limited view of hospitality, but God was growing us as we developed close relationships with other young moms and dads. And to this day, when we are able on rare occasions to get together with some of those people who were so much a part of our early marriage, we just pick up where we left off. So many special relationships were developed during that time. As our family grew, we soon saw that spill over into the lives of our children and we began to get a much fuller picture of what hospitality is all about.