This particular lesson on hospitality was actually intended to be the last one in this five-part series. However, due to the pandemic putting everyone in quarantine, I decided that it would be a good idea to go ahead with this one. After all, being quarantined really does require us to show hospitality to our households!
If you remember from the first lesson, hospitality is defined as “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers” (Lexico.com). My personal belief has always been that I should never do for others what I will not first do for my household.
Keeping this thought in mind, let us modify this definition a bit. Hospitality is the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of those who live within our households. Wow! That rather puts a different spin on things, doesn’t it?
In Elizabeth George’s A Woman After God’s Own Heart, she talks extensively about how we should put those in our own households before others in our lives (125-132). If we are to follow God’s guidance, we are to put our families first.
So, who belongs to our households? This varies from family to family and will, of course, look different for each of us. There are many different family dynamics in today’s unique world.
Some people live alone or with a roommate who is not related. There are some families that consist of only a married couple in the house. Some include one or more biological children. Then there are many households who also have elderly parents, adult children, grandchildren, and/or foster children living within them.
Titus 2:3-5 instructs the elderly women of the church to teach the younger women how to love their husbands, their children, and to be keepers at home (KJV). God has made the wife and/or mother figure in the home to be the keeper.
What does it mean to be a keeper? Merriam-Webster defines keeper as, “one that keeps such as a protector, custodian, or curator.” This tells me that it is our job to make sure everyone is cared for, things are running smoothly, and we should show hospitality to our households.
The Proverbs 31 Take on Hospitality
Proverbs 31 talks extensively about a woman who knows how to care for her household. If you read through the entire chapter, you will see all the many different things this woman did to ensure that things ran smoothly for her household.
Let’s look particularly at verse 27. It says, “She looks well to the ways of her household.” (KJV) Another version says, “She watches over the affairs of her household.” (NIV)
What exactly does this mean? There are many meanings for the word watch, but I like this one. According to dictionary.com, to watch means the “close, continuous observation for the purpose of seeing or discovering something.”
This is what this woman did. She kept a close eye on things in her household to make sure everything was working as it should and that everyone was cared for. It seems that she was continually busy keeping her house in order. She shopped, made clothing, did food prep, gave to charity, and taught those in her household.
Does this sound familiar? Maybe a little bit like your to-do list also? So, with all these things to do, what are the best ways to take care of our families? Here are five ways to show hospitality to our households.
Bring out the fine china!
In the previous lesson, we talked about how to treat visitors in our homes. I gave quite a few ideas on how to make their stay comfortable and peaceful. Yet, how often are our homes nice only when visitors come? The rest of the time we do not worry so much because “it is just the family”.
We should be more inclined to make things nice for “just the family”. I really love to set a nice table for dinner. Anytime there is a special occasion for the family, the fine china comes out. Sometimes we even use the cloth napkins for a regular supper time! I want my household to know that they are more important to me than any visitors ever will be.
I have often had the sad chore of helping clear out a house after someone has passed away. One of the saddest things about this is often not the actual clearing of the house, but rather finding the “nice stuff” that was stored away for a “special occasion” which was never used.
Several years after one of my grandmas had passed, an uncle offered me a box of Christmas china that my grandma had owned. I took it, of course, and use it every Christmas, but to this day I am not sure what I think about it.
I am rather a sentimental person and I like to keep things that meant something to those I love. However, in all the years I spent with my grandma, I never saw this box of china. As a matter of fact, it was all still wrapped and in its original box.
So, here is my dilemma. Did she ever use it? Did it mean anything to her? Had she simply picked it up at a garage sale not long before she passed? Or had she stored it for years waiting for the “perfect” time to use it?
How many of us are guilty of keeping stuff to use later when that “perfect special occasion” arrives? Are not our households worth the nice stuff, the fancy dishes, and the great-smelling soaps?
We should be more hospitable to the people who live with us than anyone else in our lives! So, bring out the fine china!
Keep the house clean and organized.
“Look straight at the task without dismay – and if you can do it, do it today.”–Louis Untermeyer (qtd. in Doan 47)
When one hears that someone is coming over to their house, most people start cleaning. But why should the house only be clean and organized when a visitor arrives? Our families should also have the joy and peace of a clean and organized house.
For those of you who are starting to disagree with me here, remember that things do not have to be perfect to be clean. Sometimes we let our perfectionism come in the way of doing what we know needs to be done. There are many ways to keep a clean and organized house while still living in it.
I used to listen to a podcast by the Flylady, which was about cleaning. My favorite idea that she taught was the “Do it now” principle. It is amazing how clean your house will become, and stay, if everyone in your family implements this principle.
The principle is as simple as it sounds. When something happens, when a mess is made, when dinner is over, etc., you clean up that instant and do not put it off until later. Messes do not get easier to clean. Instead, a mess usually draws more mess to it. Then what was a simple project becomes an overwhelming one.
Due to the current situation of everyone being quarantined in their homes, it is more important than ever to keep the house clean and organized. The more dirt and clutter, the more insane everything feels.
Think about how you feel when you return to your home after a vacation. Is your house inviting and comforting? Are you glad to be home? If the answer is no, then perhaps this is an area to work on.
It is important that our homes feel and look nice. Members of our households should enjoy coming home and it should be a place of peace and comfort to them. This is showing true hospitality to our households.
Use kind words and over the top manners.
“The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious.”Ecclesiastes 10:12 (KJV)
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.”Proverbs 15:1 (KJV)
This one is especially important to remember when you are stuck in a house with people and cannot go anywhere. Tempers get short, people get frustrated, unkind words get spoken and sometimes hospitality to our households go right out the window!
Have you ever noticed that you fight with your spouse and kids more on the weekends when you are all together in one place? People in confined spaces get on each other’s nerves regardless of how much you may love each other.
The wife/mother is usually the one who sets the tone for the whole house. If you get angry, the chances are good that other people will start to become angry. Do an experiment. Watch how the mood of the house goes up or down based on your own mood.
Yes, this requires more of you than the others in the household. But step up. Be the example and the bigger person. It should make us feel great to know that we control the tone of our homes. Elizabeth George compares it to being a thermostat. (135)
Even when you are fed up with your children and want to yell and scream, take a breath and bring your voice down to almost a whisper. If you cannot do this immediately, walk away for a bit. Lock yourself in the bathroom, if you must, and turn on the shower so you cannot hear them at the door. Take some deep breaths and refocus; then try it again.
Choose to be kind and use your most polished manners. Attitude is a choice. When I was deployed with the military, our company taught many classes on combat stress. The main thing that we taught was that we cannot control anything except ourselves and our reactions. It is all about how we are perceiving a situation and our attitude toward it.
Learning this for myself went a long way toward helping me control my stress and anxiety. If the only thing I can control is myself, well, I can do that! When I get upset or angry, it helps to remind myself of this and it settles me right back down.
Do me a favor this week. When you start to get angry and/or frustrated take a moment to yourself and regroup. Remind yourself that you can only control yourself and how you respond to a situation. Then approach the others in your household with kindness and good manners.
Let me know in the comments if this works for you. I am here to support you 100%. You got this!
Don’t stress imperfections.
“Don’t look for the flaws as you go through life, and even if you find them, be wise and kind and somewhat blind and look for the good behind them.”(Doan 56)
Another big way to show hospitality to our households is to remember not to stress imperfections. As humans, we are often too hard on ourselves and those we love the most.
I am a perfectionist and understand this mentality all too well. I want the house clean and tidy, the dinner to be cooked to showcase standards, and my child to be obedient at all times.
However, how realistic is this? We are human, after all! There will be mess-ups and flaws. It is how we react to these imperfections that matter. As I mentioned above, it really is all about attitude.
If you normally work outside the home, you may currently find yourself in a completely new situation. You are now seeing your children and/or spouse much more. You may be trying to teach the kids and/or continue to work from home. This may bring out the perfectionist in you that you did not even know existed!
Here are my thoughts to you. Yes, we want a clean and organized house, but clean does not mean perfect. Are you trying to get your kids to learn? School time does not need to start at 800 and end at 300. Maybe they didn’t learn any “real” schoolwork at all today. Is it the end of the world? Not even.
There are so many things to stress about in the world today. Let’s not stress the little imperfections of those in our households. Like the quote above says, “Be wise and kind and somewhat blind” and that will help us show hospitality to our households.
Teaching the Hospitable Way
“When pleasant work is mixed with play, it makes a very happy day.”(Doan 83)
Speaking of schoolwork, before you start to stress about the job of teaching your children, take a moment and remember that your job as a mom has always been to teach. Teaching is not something that all of a sudden you must do because you are stuck home with your kids. Learning happens every day in all sorts of ways.
When your kids are little, you teach them to brush their teeth, wash their hair, and go to the bathroom. They learn to tie their shoes, eat properly, and help with chores. The list of things you teach your kids can go on forever.
It is okay to make your kids help out. My two-year-old has to help around the house. It is never too early to teach your children how to help. Teaching children how to think for themselves and problem solve are the best lessons they can ever learn!
My friend Shawna Wright posted something on Facebook that I want to share. (I have her permission to do so.)
She says, “[Learning] doesn’t all have to look like scheduled time in the books. Have the younger ones read recipes to the older ones as they make cookies or even dinner. Discussions about what the markings mean or how many of this make up that are teaching moments. Then teach them how to clean up everything they used in making the dish. Play Monopoly and you are using math concepts, strategy, and learning to be gracious winners/losers. Even teaching them how to do more household chores to help keep things running smoothly is helping them become more well-rounded kids.” Well said!
Teaching is a big part of our responsibility to our households. It is part of the keeper aspect of our jobs that we talked about earlier. What was that definition of watch? The “close, continuous observation for the purpose of seeing or discovering something.” That sounds a lot like making sure we are keeping an eye on our children to make sure they are learning and growing properly.
Wrapping it Up
This lesson talked about being a keeper and a watcher over our homes. We discussed five ways to practice good hospitality toward our households. We also discussed how right now, with everyone quarantined in their homes, hospitality to our households is more important than ever! Otherwise, we may all go a little nuts.
Do you have any thoughts on showing hospitality to your household? Comment below to share your thought. I would love to hear from you!
Doan, Eleanor. A Child’s Treasury of Verse. The Zondervan Corporation, 1977.
George, Elizabeth. A Woman After God’s Own Heart. Harvest House Publishers, Inc., 1997.
Merriam-Webster. www.merriam-webster.com. Accessed April 4, 2020
www.dictionary.com. Accessed April 4, 2020
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