This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Emily: Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I’m Emily Jensen here with my sister-in-law, Laura Wifler. Today we are going to dive right in to talk about hospitality with children and the whole nine yards. This is sometimes a overwhelming topic in motherhood and something that we want to do as believers, but it’s definitely something that we want to think about, understand, and know why it is so important that we apply that, not only for the sake of the gospel but also as a really great teaching tool. We are going to jump right in today, right Laura? [laughs]
Laura: Yes, we’re diving deep. I grew up in a house that practiced a lot of hospitality. It was definitely full on. Every weekend there was somebody coming over for something, a lot of impromptu meetings. So it’s something that my husband and I have a huge passion for, and again, I’m really excited to talk about this today. But it has definitely gotten harder. It used to be so much easier before kids and now with kids, I feel like there are so many more factors.
Emily: Obviously, I’m married to Laura’s brother,] so he’s cut from the same cloth, experienced the same things growing up like a ton of hospitality. I’ve enjoyed the hospitality of Laura’s parents, my in-laws, but I think that’s not always been a passion area for me if I were to look at all the different ways I do ministry in life. Hospitality is definitely on the list, but it’s not at the top of the list. I think with young kids, it’s been taking it day by day and month by month sometimes, and saying, “How does the Lord want us to lay down our comforts and sacrifice and extend what we have been given to others, and enjoy those relationships?” It’s definitely been a process for me.
Laura: With kids, I think no matter how good you are at hospitality, how naturally it comes to you, it definitely becomes more sacrificial. It becomes difficult for even the most hostess with the mostest I guess. Let’s chat through the gospel really quick. We have a couple of different things to speak of here. I think the first thing, if we look at God’s word, we are going to find hospitality all over the place. In the Old Testament, it was a command for the Israelites. When the people travelled around back then, they had to rely on the kindness of strangers. You can go to Leviticus 19 to see God’s law on this and his love for the traveler, for the sojourner. He commanded for the people to treat others to love him as you love yourself. They were called to remember how they were outsiders in Egypt, and now they are called to show the love of God that they received when they were rescued from Egypt.
You can even look at Genesis 18, I think that’s one of the most popular examples of hospitality in the Old Testament, where Abraham and Sarah were entertaining three strangers. They did all this great stuff that you can read as an example of great hospitality. It turned out that they were entertaining angels and one of them was Christ himself. Again, you can see in the New Testament this just continues, this charge for believers, especially with the early Church. You can see it in Romans, Hebrews, 1 Peter, 1 Timothy, Titus, all of these are charging the church body to show hospitality to each other, to strangers and to friends, Jews and Gentiles, and it was even a requirement for church leadership.
Emily: It is everywhere in scripture. That was an awesome overview. I’ll just be really honest here because I think we’ve been in this habit of bearing our souls on Risen Motherhood. I think all of those almost feel really burdensome to me. I’ve been a believer for a while and I know I’m supposed to be showing hospitality. I know we are supposed to be opening our home. I want to be like that, but for me, it has been hard to find motivation with just the biblical examples. Which is why it’s been helpful, as Laura and I were thinking about the show, to process through why. Why does it matter to God? Why does he love hospitality? I’ve enjoyed thinking through even in the Garden, think about how hospitable God was by creating this gorgeous place for mankind to live. They had good food and they had work to do and they had a purpose and they had good fellowship with God. So if there is an originator of good hospitality, it is the Lord.
Laura: God is the hostess with the mostest. [laughter]
Emily: Did Adam and Eve appreciate that and trust God? No, sin enters and we’re definitely selfish beings who are always looking out for our own interests and so hospitality is very difficult for our sinful, selfish hearts. But we know that God made a way for his people to come back to him and be reconciled through Jesus. That was something that happened at great personal cost to Christ. He laid down everything to the point of death for us, so that we could be back in God’s kingdom again and someday, in a new heaven and new earth, experience that feasting at the table again, being with the Lord, being in fellowship with him, being in a place that is beautiful and enjoyable with people we love. It’s this ultimate big picture of hospitality and it’s exciting and undeserved.
Laura: I think when we hear this side of hospitality, I totally agree with you Em, that I think it rises within me, this desire to model God’s heart, because we want to love the things that God loves, to hate the things that he hates. This beautiful story of the gospel—hospitality is all over it. Even when it costs us something and, not even close to the cost that it cost Jesus, but when it costs us time, our energy, our money, sleep routine, crabby kids, all of those fun things. When we image God, we are showing them a picture of the gospel and just how radical God’s love is. I think that hopefully this picture of what God has done for us starts to motivate you and grow in you a love for exemplifying the same things that God loves, because this is how we draw others. We are a light. We are a salt and light to the others and we draw others to image him.
Emily: As you’re basking in that, now we’re going to get all the objections. Tthey’re all going to surface. Maybe you have lots of little kids at home, maybe you have one little kid that’s really in a difficult season right now. Maybe you have a newborn that you’re like, “I’m going to have to nurse this baby in the middle of the meal and our guests are going to want to be talking. I can’t pay attention because I have little ones that need to get down for a nap,” or maybe there’s a bedtime issue that you’re having to deal with. Other issues may be that your husband travelled somewhere. He is gone a lot and so you feel like, “Is this something I can do by myself with my kids?” Maybe you have a kiddo with some special needs or considerations like, “Oh, we’ve got lots of food allergies in our house,” or, “I have a kiddo that needs almost my full attention while people are here. How do I deal with that?” Maybe you are a working mom to whatever degree and life is really busy and you’re like, “I want to get home and just provide food for my own family.” Maybe you also have older kids and there’s activities. I don’t even know, I haven’t even gotten to that realm yet, but I watch other people do it and I’m like, “Wow, that’s really busy. How do you make space for hospitality?” There’s certainly a lot of things that come up.
Laura: There are so many variances but we can see that no matter where you’re at or what life stage you are in with your kids, hospitality is still a wonderful teaching tool. I think that’s one of the reasons why I love hospitality so much is that it really shows our children so many different facets of the gospel. I think that a lot of this is done through modeling, through the hosting of itself but also, a lot of it is done through communicating around it, before it, after it, and during it. I think that’s where those truths are. They come full circle for our children and they are able to see, “Oh, this is why we do this.” One of the first things that hospitality can show our kids is God’s love for all people; both the stranger and our friend. Hearts are changed in the living room. That is where the gospel does it’s work. It’s getting more and more difficult to invite people to church these days, as there are so many stereotypes or personal histories that hinder people from being open to something called “church”. But to come into your home, most people are super excited and willing to do that. It’s a comfortable welcoming inviting place and so in front of our children, it can show that, “We have believers in our home and we have unbelievers in our home. I think it shows them a heart for the lost and also how encouraging and refreshing it is for us, in our own souls, to meet with people that also love Jesus.
One big thing that I’m working with my kids is teaching them to make conversation, to ask good questions. It can show our children that everyone who comes into our home, we want to show them the good news of Jesus. With my son and my daughter, we are working on having them talk to people who come in. I know with little kids, a lot of times, they can shy away or get nervous or not want to talk. We’re like, “We don’t have to have a full conversation with them but we want you to be polite and show kindness even if you don’t feel comfortable with this person.” We talk him through that and we talk about it afterwards and it’s amazing to see the transformation as he’d had practice and also as we prep him for it than when we are like, “Hey, talk dude, talk, talk to this stranger.” [laughter]
Emily: What Laura just mentioned is a great universal tip, if you’re wanting to train your kids in anything, which is talk about it before, teach them how, do it and then talk about it afterwards; how it went pre and post activities—super good stuff there. Some other things, real quick are, modeling for our children that we want to be generous, and that all of the possessions that we have belong to the Lord ultimately. I was reading a scripture yesterday about eternity and all of the riches and all of the wealth that God has lavished on us. It is funny when I think about what we are going to have forever, so why do we hold on to what we have right now? It doesn’t matter. We should spend it all for Christ. We shouldn’t be holding on to it because we have so much wonderful riches and comfort coming. I think it can be a way to show that to our children. Then finally, teaching our kids to have a servant heart and to lay down what they want to do in order to really care for others in really practical ways like helping set the table and seeing if they need any help with anything like coat. This all overlaps but all good stuff.
Laura: If you’ve spent any amount of time with me ever, you’ve probably heard me say, “See needs and meet them.” That was my mom’s mantra and she drilled it into us as kids, that no matter where we went, if the dishes need washed, well, that’s you. It didn’t matter if we were at someone’s house who we knew really, really well or at someone’s house who we didn’t know well, we tried to be able to serve whomever’s house we were in. Even in our own homes, we want to see needs and meet them. If someone needs a drink or if someone needs their coat hung up or whatever it is. That’s something I’m working on with my children of like, “Hey, can you go take this napkin to Mr. Steve over there?” We encourage them. Even my three-year old and my two-year old can learn how to see needs and meet them, even if mom is seeing them and then the child is meeting them but that’s something you can do right away.
Emily: If you are listening and you are like, “Hey, I want to get started on this,” or like, “Now I’m feeling all the motivation and all the excitement,” what are some things that you could do, we could do, I could do? I need this list here. [laughs] I think we went through a few examples in scripture of hospitality but that can be something you can be on the lookout for as you are reading scripture, doing your Bible study, whatever it is your working through right now. Also, just be praying even day by day like, “God is there somebody that you want me to reach out to today, or invite over or bring into our home for a deeper relationship?” I think sometimes I can get in radical mode of like, “What’s this big crazy hospitality thing I can do?” when really, it’s like, “Hey, we already have some people in our lives that probably wouldn’t mind coming over.” It’s probably a simple smaller thing for me that I miss or even brainstorming. My husband loves to brainstorm when we are going to have people over. [laughter] You and Brad need to get together and have some planning.
Laura: We used to, we used to. [laughter]
Emily: So even entertaining that and processing through that and then getting it on the calendar, even if it’s not something that we send out invites for. It’s that prompting, so lots of good ideas.
Laura: Yes, and make it part of your natural rhythm. As I was going to say, my husband and I’s tendency is to overextend. I know right now we say, “We’re not going to throw this big elaborate Easter brunch because that’s a little bit difficult in this season of young kids but we strive to host twice a month. However that’s going to look, and it’s super impromptu—order pizza, use paper plates, don’t over think. The hosting isn’t about getting out your nice plates and making sure that you have fine china and all this stuff. It’s just about gathering together and so don’t over complicate it. I know you Emily, you guys invest deep in a few select people, right? I like that. Talk about that for a sec.
Emily: In this season, we’ve got four young kids and I’m pregnant so it’s mass chaos. We have a college student and my husband has a high school student that we are responsible for and we are always, “If no one else…” we have these people as part of our natural rhythm and we try to see them, at least our college student, every week and see how can she come into our home more. How can she have a bedroom here? Have a place here? Maybe we can’t have all the house parties right now but here’s something that we feel like the Lord is leading us to do, and she’s cool with our hot mess. [laughter] We love it and we are hopefully doing these things in the name of Christ, which is like what Laura was saying, is really what matters. What I’m learning, as well, is that this is about relationship with people and talking to them about Jesus and growing with them and less about all of the other details, although those can be a tool to minister to people.
Laura: For me, I have a big mouth and I’m like, “Hey, let’s hang out.” Suddenly, randomly, I just got the idea that I want to spend time with a person. We’ve learned to do some stuff after bedtime where people have babysitters are a little bit cheaper sometimes or we do things that are midmorning play dates so there’s no meal happening. So get creative. If there is a hindrance for you, get creative. There are definitely ways around it. No excuse is in surmountable. The last thing is learn from others in your life. If there is something that you are getting hang up on like, “What do I do with these muddy shoes in the winter? There are so many of them,” or, “What recipe do I make for gluten-free or for a lot of kids plus a lot of adults?” “What coffee craft do I use?” As I’ve grown in hosting, I’m like, these are some really good tools that I like to have on hand. It’s helped my experience to make hosting enjoyable because when you have the right equipment. Talk to someone who you know is a great host and learn from them. I think we need to wrap up here but hospitality is going to look really different for every family in every season. We really want to hit that home but know that it’s still something that we hope you can grow a love for, and grow and improve in, and really see the gospel revealed in your own life and in others’ lives as you guys begin an attitude and a practice of hospitality. Remember that it’s an overflow of what Jesus has done for you and of all the things that you’ve been given.
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