People want to guard what they own and are cautious about whom they invite into their world.
“That’s mine!” a child exclaims. One of the things sin shattered is the tendency to share and, by extension, be hospitable. God’s way, however, is refreshingly different.
The world says, “Watch out. They want your shirt.” God says to give them your jacket, too. Matthew writes that those who serve people in need serve Jesus (25:34-40).
Hospitality traditionally refers to opening one’s home and its comforts to others. The Bible says that this godly characteristic is a mark of mature leadership (1 Timothy 3:2-5).
Yet, too often we hold tightly to our possessions, even as God asks us to do otherwise. Everything we own comes from God (James 1:17; 1 Corinthians 4:7). He asks us to be generous with what we have received (Matthew 10:8; Romans 12:5-8; Isaiah 58:6-11) and to be hospitable.
God knows how readily we place our security in our possessions. Still, He gives His grace to help us relax our grip and share our lives and things with others. Openness and vulnerability are the foundations of godly hospitality.
Use two puppets to teach about hospitality.
Puppet 1: (yells and makes noises offstage) I need bandages.
Parent: Are you hurt? (Puppet enters.)
Puppet 1: No. You told me to be hospital-able. I need bandages for it.
Parent: Wait. Hospitable isn’t a building where people get well. Hospitable means to share what you have with others.
Puppet 1: Like bandages?
Parent: Sometimes. But usually people share other things.
Puppet 1: Like what? Not things that belong to me.
Parent: Yes, when you share things that belong to you, you are being hospitable.
Puppet 1: I see. (Knock at door.) I’ll try to be hospitable. Come in!
(Puppet 2 enters.)
Puppet 1: I’m happy to see you. Would you like a hospital room? I have one to share with you.
Puppet 2: No, thank you. I’m not hurt or sick.
Puppet 1: But I want to be hospitable. Maybe you should come back when you’re hurt.
Parent: Hold on. It’s nice to welcome your friend, but being hospitable means sharing things your friend wants, not just the things that are easy for you to share.
Puppet 2: I came over to play.
Puppet 1: Do you want to pretend to be a doctor, and I’ll be hurt?
Puppet 2: OK. (Puppets exit.)
Parent: (to child) What are some ways that you can be hospitable to your friends?
- What does it mean to be hospitable?
- What do you have that you can share?
- Why is it good to let a friend choose first?
—Karen H. Whiting
Teach hospitality by planning a play date for your child and two friends — a best friend and a new friend. Plan to have your child’s favorite activities, toys and snacks, but emphasize that as host, it’s his job to show his guests a great time. That means letting guests select toys first, choose craft supplies first and pick snacks first. And no favoritism to the best friend. Make sure the other child feels important, too.
At the play date, stay as hands-off as possible. Praise your child when he’s hospitable and encourage him when he struggles.
A week later, ask if the friendship with the new child has grown. If it has, talk about how his hospitality might have helped his new friend feel welcome. Talk about how God wants us to share what He’s given us and to make others feel loved.
- Was it hard sharing your best stuff with your friends?
- How did it feel to see your guests enjoying your favorite toys and snacks?
- Would you like to be treated in the same way at your friend’s house?
- What else could you have done to make your friends feel welcome while they were at your house?
Encourage your tween to host an open house. Invite friends, neighbors and newcomers, especially children who usually aren’t invited to activities.
As you prepare for the open house, discuss ways to welcome others and share what God has given your tween — his home and belongings. Talk about giving up favorite seats, offering beverages, letting guests go first in activities and listening attentively. Then pray for each person who will attend.
Enlist your child to prepare snacks, decide on games to play and make welcome packs. Include a card and pen for guests to write down prayer requests. They can drop them in a basket by the door as they leave.
- Have you ever felt welcome in someone else’s home? What did he do to make you feel that way?
- What is most difficult about being hospitable?
- What has God given you? Are you willing to share these things with others?
- How can you share them with another person?
Talking with your teens
Do you wonder if your teens are hospitable? View a chart that will guide you through four questions to gauge how well your teens roll out the welcome mat for others.