“We’re going to be a blessing to this family.”
Those were words I heard so many times growing up. Almost every week we had at least one family come over for dinner, often more. My mom would prepare a meal, usually with food items that were difficult to find in Mongolia so it would be extra special for the family joining us. As amazing smells filled our home and we scurried around picking up the last few toys just minutes before our guests arrived, we would hear the reminder from my parents: we were all called to bless those entering into our home. Hospitality wasn’t just my parents’ calling – it was ours, too. Because of that, all eight of us kids learned to embrace a lifestyle of serving people inside the walls of our home. It wasn’t a burden to us, it was a joy.
Now I’m a wife and mom with four busy little people of our own, and I have a greater appreciation than ever before the kind of effort and intentionality it takes not only to practice hospitality, but also to bring the whole family into it. Judah and I sense a significant calling to practice hospitality as a regular part of our lives, just like both of our parents did and continue to do.
However, it can be tempting in these early years when the kids are little to justify not practicing hospitality. Because, well, it takes extra work. It takes being willing to make a meal when I would rather just heat up leftovers. It takes being willing to clean the bathrooms when I would’ve let them go a few more days. It takes letting go of a free evening to invest in others. It takes extra training of our kiddos in loving others who enter our home.
But, if we said no to hospitality in this season of life simply because of those things, the motive would be selfishness. I want our children to learn that loving and serving others in the name of Jesus is a high and holy privilege, and the extra work is 100% worth it.
Of course there are times to “Come away… and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). And for those of us who struggle with saying correct “no’s” *raises hand* it can be easy to commit to things that God isn’t asking of us. This leads to burnout that could’ve been avoided if we had been more attentive to God’s voice rather than just wanting to look like we can do it all. We’ve been created with limits, and we need to be able to rest when it’s time to rest, not feeling guilty when it’s done for the right reasons. And, when we do rest appropriately, we’ll be even more prepared to love our families and all those who God asks us to minister to. Our children need to learn correct service and correct rest by watching our lives.
My children need to know they aren’t a hindrance to showing hospitality. Yes, in the season when they are young it may look different than before they came or once they’re older. But if they become the excuse for me not stepping out in faith to do what God asks of me, what will that teach them? Sure, it takes more effort to clean a home and prepare food with little hands trying to pull Tupperware out of cabinets or needing to stop every few minutes to instruct them. But God says that children are strength (Psalm 127:4). And when He asks me to have children and practice hospitality, He is going to grow me by His enabling grace to do every single thing He is asking of me.
And on a bit of a side note, It’s so easy to look around and compare; subconsciously to size ourselves up against this or that mom’s service. And it either inflates us or deflates us… which causes an unsteady and volatile life. I have to remind myself over and over and over that what matters is listening to God’s call on my life. Yes, every person is called to obedience in certain things (i.e. show hospitality). But the way that is played out and to what extent is between us and God, and varies from season to season. Whenever I fall prey to measuring my life against others, I become anxious, snappy, discouraged, prideful, and self-conscious. But when I’m resting in the Lord, knowing that I’m doing exactly what He’s called us to, those wrong things are replaced with peace, joy, and rest in Him.
I’m so thankful that God enables us as moms to continue to be a part of His plan to bless others in His name, and that we have the privilege of bringing our children into it with us. Boy, does it take wisdom and grace only God can give. But He gives it abundantly. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” (2 Peter 1:3)
How do we gain what we need to live a life of obedience? By knowing God. When our eyes are fixed on Jesus, we see clearly where and how He is directing us. And our lives will be marked by supernatural peace and strength that comes only from delighting in Him.
So today, I want to be obedient, whatever that looks like. And, I pray that God will grow that vision for the beauty of Christ-centered service in the hearts of my children as they watch God grow it in me, too.