Dads, are you looking for something fun to teach your children? Try this: teach your children hospitality by inviting guests into your home for dinner. If you are ready to add something new to your fatherly teaching schedule of math, auto mechanics, and nuclear physics, then develop your child’s joy of opening your home and entertaining visitors.
Look at the Bible’s thoughts on hospitality. In Romans 12:13, Paul passes on a concise, two-word command from the Lord, “Practice hospitality.” I guess He could not be much clearer than that. Our God places a high priority on hospitality. In I Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:8, we are told hospitality is a requirement for being a church elder, and it’s right up there with monogamy and sobriety. I want my kids to be of elder-caliber, so I figure hospitality is an easy place to start.
In offering hospitality to your dinner guests, you create a teaching opportunity for your kids (this is good). You teach them social skills like how to listen, how to be interested in other people, and how to focus on others’ needs. You instruct your kids in how to set a dinner table and how to clean up the house (your wife will love you after this!). You guide your kids in how to prepare a meal, how to offer guests a drink before the meal, and how to be servants like our Lord Jesus Christ. You coach your kids in how to introduce themselves to others, how to shake hands, and how to ask and remember names. Perhaps most important, you’ll demonstrate how to share your faith with others; because at our dinners, we inevitably end up talking about the Lord (this is very good).
So whom do you invite? Well, I suggest you invite people you want to get to know. If you are going to open up your home, bring in people who interest you. Our church is blessed by visits from missionaries, so we call and invite some to dinner. Last year we had one visit our home, and my kids were fascinated by the stories, the pictures, and the complete devotion of their lives to the Lord’s will. We have relatives over so my kids can know them better and hear stories about what I did when I was a kid. I have had my co-workers and their families over so my kids can meet those people with whom Dad spends his weekdays. We have the families of my kids’ friends over so we can learn more about each other.
How do you get started with this dinner thing? Well, dumping it in your wife’s lap is the wrong way, so try something else. Plan ahead. Meet with your wife and list about five different guests you would like to invite. Pick one guest and make the invitation call yourself. Give everyone several days’ notice so you can properly pull it all together. Plan the evening and allow your kids to be part of the planning. They will come up with some wacky ideas, so be ready to delegate.
Offer to cook for that evening. No, I am not kidding. Your barbecue grill would be fabulous for such an informal event. Boston Market is my backup for those nights when we do not cook. The objective is to teach your kids about hospitality. Cooking the meal is secondary. Above all, help clean up the dishes and the house after the dinner is over.
After dinner, plan something fun for your guests. We play board games and dominoes, or we tell stories of our childhoods (my kids love to hear these) and how Belinda and I met each other. Get your kids involved in the evening’s entertainment. Recently my kids put on a backyard scavenger hunt for some guests and followed it up with an impromptu song and dance review. It was not quite Broadway, but our guests were laughing. The goal is to bless your guests with a pleasant evening and to let your kids participate in that hospitality.
Dads, maybe this dinner guest idea does not seem too appealing to you. In I Peter 4:9, the Lord bids us to, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” As with all things regarding your child’s education, pray and get the Lord’s view of how He would like you to handle hospitality. I hope you will give the dinner event at least one try and then watch your kids blossom with the opportunity.
As always, I’d be interested in your thoughts on all of this: ImperfectFather@Gmail.com.