Share, don't preserve

Do you know about cake mix cookies? A cheap box of cake mix, a couple eggs, some oil and whatever type of mix-ins you have can result in tasty, fluffy cookies! The possibilities are endless  of the types and flavors that can be made. I often associate cake mix cookies with families because these cookies are so much fun to make with children! Toddlers can help pour mix-ins into the bowl, and older kids can help scoop them out and put them on the tray. Just as everyone can have a part in making these cookies, every member of your family can have a part in hospitality too. 

It’s amazing how easily children pick up on adult behavior. For example, when my daughter was 13 months, she’d hold objects up to her ear like a phone because she’d seen me do it. She always wants to see what I’m doing and asks the best she can in her toddler voice, “mama, what doing?” She is a sponge and soaks up my behavior - for better or worse! Do they see us welcoming friends into our home? Do they hear us calling a friend to say “I’m at the store, is there anything you need while I’m here?” Do they see us scrambling to clean the house and make things “perfect” or do they see us confident in our space and our family before opening the door?

Not only should we model hospitality, but we should inspire them to take ownership of their space. If we want to raise up the next generation to show hospitality, we have to instill in them that their space, whether it is a playroom, bedroom, or the family room, is theirs to share, not preserve. When you tell your son to clean the playroom before friends come over, remind them that if it is a mess, his friends won’t have as much fun because they will be unable to find all the toys. When you tell your daughter to put away the toys strewn around the family room, remind her that she can pick up her sibling’s toys too as a way to show kindness. If our kiddos are not taught the “why” behind keeping their spaces tidy, there is no incentive for them to do so as adults when no one is nagging them. This careful instruction is a worthwhile investment because as they learn that everyone feels more comfortable and welcomed when a room is picked up, they begin to see the mess and clutter as a hindrance to hospitality.

We can’t teach our children these truths if we are holding tight to what we have. I think we spend a lot of time preserving. When I think of preserving I think of a museum. They artifacts are lovely to look at and a day at the museum can be relaxing and refreshing. But the items are untouchable. They are separate and highly prized. We preserve our social media presence for fear of offending or looking lame. We preserve our house because we say we’re too busy to cook or clean. We preserve our schedule by saying we need family time. None of those things are innately bad just as a museum is not bad. However, our life is to be shared. We are created for fellowship with each other. Only when we realize our home, schedule, work, family, and life are solely for the glory of God will we begin to understand that sharing what we have is far better than preserving the ideal. 

Family time is not bad. A perfectly curated social media is not bad. Wanting a clean house for guests is not bad. However, when we take the approach to preserve rather than share, we set our kids up for the same mindset. When we place more value on the items or opportunities than on sharing them with others, we project the idea that it’s ok to never live with an open hand and heart. We lead by example in so many areas, and hospitality should be included!

I’d love to hear from you! How do you model hospitality for your kids? How do you include your kids in actively practicing hospitality?