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By: Mark Merrill

When I was growing up, our friends came to our home all the time. My parents always welcomed my friends and my brothers’ friends. And there was always a lot of food and fun. But, more and more, I’m seeing families keeping to themselves. More people are guarded and internally focused. Perhaps the time has come for more hospitality at home.

One of the greatest reasons we have for showing more hospitality is how it helps us teach our children to interact with the rest of the world. We need to teach our children the art and science of hospitality.

That doesn’t mean we need to have a big house, or making every visitor feel like they’re at a five-star hotel. But it does mean we are intentional about creating opportunities to welcome others, and about creating a welcoming environment wherever we are.

Hospitality should also be a priority because it reflects the heart of God. It means looking for and creating opportunities to host people in your home who want or need friendship, food, shelter, and love.

Hospitality should also be a priority because it reflects the heart of God.

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When our kids were younger, we had people over for dinner occasionally, but not as much as we wanted. So, as our kids got older, we became more deliberate about welcoming our kids’ friends, some of whom did not have good family lives. We realized we were “doing life” in front of these kids in our home, not just feeding them. Whether through small groups or spontaneous visits, we were able to leverage our home as an investment into these hurting young hearts.

Here are some benefits that come to those who intentionally practice hospitality in their home:

  • Building a mindset focused on others above self. Hospitality helps your kids see that the world doesn’t revolve just around your family or around them.
  • Serving people with what you have at hand, not just with your checkbook. Hospitality puts arms and legs to the idea of helping people. It’s one thing to write a check to help feed people around the world. It’s another to roll up your sleeves and feed others in your own home. Both are needed.
  • Developing social skills. Hospitality creates interactions with people of different backgrounds, ages, and circumstances. How you model handling these differences equips your kids to handle those differences better too.
  • Cultivating skills for hosting others. Hospitality involves learning to plan a meal or activities, a calendar or agenda of events around such visits.
  • Appreciating planned AND spontaneous hospitality. Not every guest comes announced. It’s great to learn how to pre-plan for guests, but adapting to unexpected hospitality opportunities builds needed flexibility. The world around us needs both.
  • Setting aside your own priorities/schedules for the needs of others. The flexibility that hospitality sometimes requires also teaches the need to sacrifice our own agenda for the sake of others.