Guest post by Kendra Broekhuis

As I pulled a casserole out of the freezer, I fought all of my “I Don’t Feel Like It’s” I felt about our plans to have company over that night.

My husband and I try to put hospitality on our calendar twice per month because it’s a way we can love our neighbors during the Little Kid Stage. However, I’d be lying if I said this was always an easy goal for us to fulfill. As a mom of two little kids and as an introvert, the presence of people tends to suck my energy levels dry quite quickly. And I mean that in the nicest way possible. Not only that, but there are also the logistics of preparing and eating a meal, all while keeping the children content and attempting to have a friendly conversation with whoever we have invited over.

Why even try, amiright?

Kids take up our schedules and drain our energy, so why not stick to just feeding our own family? Why not interpret the word “neighbor” in all those passages of Scripture to strictly mean “our own children” throughout this stage of life? Why not save all that “serving others” stuff for when they are older?

Contribute to the needs of the saints and continue to show hospitality. {Romans 12:13, ESV}

While are children are indeed our neighbors, and “the least of these,” and an important part of our ministry as parents, I believe that showing hospitality not only blesses others, but also disciples our own hearts and the hearts of our children. Here are just a few reasons why:

  • Practicing hospitality exposes our children to people who look, believe, and live differently than they do, which in turn teaches them how to interact with someone who is different than they are.
  • Showing children what it means to love people who are different than them is much more effective than preaching that message to them.
  • Serving others with our kids – be it through hospitality or in other ways – gives them the opportunity to ask questions about what we are doing, and more importantly why we are doing it.
  • While hospitality can physically drain our energy, it can simultaneously restore our family with truth, refresh us with encouragement, and deepen our compassion. I have had many times where I felt tired before having people over for dinner. However, I have never regretted giving out the invitation after our guests left.
  • Learning more about other people’s lives gets us out of our own heads and our own stress so that we learn to think about someone else.

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. {1 Peter 4:9}

Now, I can still feel the grumblings from the moms nursing little babies and managing sassy toddlers and wondering how hospitality is even possible – mostly because I am so there with them. Therefore, the next list I want to share with includes a few things I try to remember in order to make hospitality less complicated and therefore less scary:

  • Don’t give out vague invitations such as, “If you ever want to hang out, let us know.” Suggest three concrete dates and times that you know work for you, and go from there. Putting something on the calendar is half the battle of making hospitality happen.
  • Research 3-5 recipes that are easy to make and create a large portion yield. Let these be your go-to’s for when you have company. Keep in mind common dietary restrictions such as gluten and dairy-free food. Also, when possible, don’t be too cool for KFC. Or meals that you pull out of the freezer.
  • Skip supper and share an hour over dessert instead.
  • Don’t think for even a second that hospitality has anything to do with having a Pinterest account. If “fancy” is your thing, then by all means go for it. I’m going to stick to sweatpants and paper towel napkins and feel no shame about that.
  • Don’t feel like it is your job to entertain. Entertainment means putting on a show. Hospitality means making someone feel welcomed. Providing someone with a simple meal and a good conversation around your table is more than enough to make someone feel loved.

When the goal isn’t to impress but to simply welcome, hospitality becomes a much more manageable and meaningful act of service that breaks wide open the hearts of everyone sitting around the table, including the kids.

So, invite your neighbors, friends from church, coworkers, and family over. Invite the rich, the poor, the Democrat, the Republican, the Christian, the non-religious. Invite the single, the married, the parents, and the empty nesters. Invite those who aren’t in your stage of life. Invite those you aren’t naturally drawn to.

This season of life with little kids isn’t a limitation that holds us back from our full potential of ministry as a family. Rather, it’s an opportunity to get creative and ask ourselves how we can serve others as a family.

Practicing hospitality is one of those ways.

Grace and Peace,
Kendra

Win a copy of Kendra’s new book!

What encourages you to practice hospitality in your home? What are ways you try to make hospitality less complicated and therefore less scary?

Leave a comment below to be entered to win a copy of Here Goes Nothing: An Introvert’s Reckless Attempt to Love Her Neighbor. 

About Kendra Broekhuis

Kendra is the author of the recently released book, Here Goes Nothing: An Introvert’s Reckless Attempt to Love Her Neighbor. For her day job, Kendra stays home with two of their children, Jocelyn and Levi. She and her family live and work in the city of Milwaukee, attempting to learn what Love Your Neighbor is supposed to look like. Kendra’s love language is Dove chocolate. Visit her website at www.kendrabroekhuis.com or follow her on Facebook.

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