Welcome back for our chapter 3 discussion on Practicing Hospitality: The Joy of Serving Others by Pat Ennis & Lisa Tatlock. This is part 3 of an eight week discussion on this book. For part 1, visit here. For part 2, visit here. We are so glad you decided to join us! I Even if you are not participating in the study, I encourage you to keep reading. Chapter 3 focused on Hospitality & Family.
“If the Lord has given us a family, extending hospitality to our family is our first priority.” Once we have established this ministry to our own family, we can then begin to offer it to others outside our home. Hospitality will then become a natural extension to others of what we are already exhibiting to our own families. Why is this important?
- For the sake of our integrity – loving our husbands and children are our priorities (Tit. 2:3-5)
- For the sake of our children – neglecting our children can build unnecessary resentment that will not bear fruit of the gospel in their lives
- For the sake of the gospel - your godly behavior and service to your household and family can be a powerful gospel witness
How can we practice hospitality with a family?
- Remember there are seasons in life - each season requires creativity in balancing ministry and family priorities. Some seasons may not allow us to extend hospitality as regularly or extensively. With little ones, it may be best to buy a meal to deliver to a family with a new baby!
- Partner with your husband - The command to be hospitable was given to all believers. Include your husband in your extension of hospitality. Allow him to lead and direct what you can take on in your current season. Seek his counsel and direction as to the events, conversation and activity planning for the evening.
- Include your children – involve them in the preparation process (planning the menu, setting and decorating the table, thinking of creative ways to reach out to the children of the guests you may be inviting over).
- Treat your family “as good as guests” - plan special events within your own home (family nights, serving their favorite foods, preparing your appearance, creating a warm atmosphere, etc).
- Keep an orderly home - keeping an orderly home communicates our love to our family in a tangible way.
- Use discretion – be wise in discerning how every extension of hospitality might impact your family.
- Remember meaningful moments – establish family traditions.
The Importance of Family Traditions
- Family traditions provide a sense of stability or permanence in our homes.
- Family traditions provide a method of remembering God’s work in our lives.
- Family traditions provide a means of passing on a godly heritage to our children.
Family traditions can be planned and established around:
- Spiritual Heritage - establishing traditions that pass on Biblical truths about God, his Word, and their personal relationship with him. In our home this includes morning devotions together as a family, prayer and worship time before bedtime (including a special hymn selected for each of our children), staying together in church on Sunday and making church attendance a priority, regular monthly habits of giving, scheduling twice a month hospitality (once with unbelievers and once with friends in the body of Christ), etc.
- Kindred Heritage – Establishing special celebrations that relate to important events in your family- birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, deaths, and other unique dates can all be celebrated as memorable family traditions. A few ideas we are beginning: write letters to our children on birthdays reflecting on their growth over the previous year, making favorite meals and special cakes on birthdays, assembling an annual photo album that includes chronically God’s providence’s from that year, weekly family nights, twice a month date nights to build our marriage, etc.
- Holiday Heritage – Selecting meaningful traditions to establish around religious or cultural holidays. We purchase special Christmas ornaments for our tree that celebrate events that took place that year, reading advent materials for Christmas, giving a special “Jesus” gift, special breakfasts or meals for the holidays (cranberry twists for Christmas morning), fondue for New Years, etc.
I greatly appreciated the focus of this chapter on establishing a regular habit of purposefully extending hospitality to our own families. I have never really considered that an opportunity to be hospitable, but when you define hospitality as meeting basic needs, welcoming others, showing love , warmth, and encouragement, it does make perfect sense that our family should be our first priority.
This takes planning! I am motivated to develop a list of different traditions that we could begin to cultivate more this year (a regular family night including a special favorite meal and dessert, planning in focused times with my daughter – regular weekly trips to the library, reading times together, including her in food preparations, etc). Including unique table decorations, candles, cloth napkins on occasion can help make my family feel especially appreciated. I am preparing a list of holiday traditions we have started and new additions for this year (special meal for the holiday, books to read together, activities, giving, etc).
This quote by Dorothy Patterson really ministered to me: “Busyness is not godliness. God is not impressed with your production capacity as much as He is concerned that the product of your home – your own children – be chiseled and molded and perfected to the best of your ability. You may tire of this mundane task, but the Lord admonishes you not to grow weary and promises to supply the energy and strength as needed in this all-important task. God’s strength is for what He plans for you to do – not stamina for everything you might want to do!”
We will continue this book next time, Monday, March 2, with chapter 4: Hospitality & Management. If you are interested in joining us, please do. Order your copy today here!
I am interested in hearing what you took away from this chapter. Feel free to post comments below or write your thoughts on your blog (and come back and post the link in the comments). No need to share anything profound, just whatever stood out to you. Here are a few questions to get you started:
1. How can you begin to practice hospitality towards your family?
2. What are your favorite spiritual, kindred or holiday traditions?