Last year I started to wonder whether his habit of asking for me to invite people over for dinner wasn’t just the emotions of a kid wanting more of a social life. Perhaps I’m watching the stirrings of a gift for hospitality. He genuinely loves to have people over. He thrives in a group of people.
I’ve been trying not just to listen, but to act as well. My actions can help him understand and cultivate this gift for God’s kingdom (seeing eternal purpose in hospitality), and it just might push me out of my comfort zone a bit as well. I enjoy company, but it’s easy to think up excuses for why we can’t have someone over at a particular time. Yesterday afternoon he asked if we could invite his Sunday school teachers over for dinner. Since I HAD been thinking about making an actual dinner (and not something like baked beans and hot dogs!) I agreed, and we had a good visit with them.
There’s a wonder in observing spiritual gifts as they develop in a child, especially when their inclinations happen in unexpected ways and push us parents out of our comfort zones. As we talked last night together, I asked him if he thought it was strange that he tends to be a quiet person who also loves to be around people. He likes to bring people together, even if he’s not a part of the conversation. These are new thoughts for him, too.
As adults, we think of hospitality as elaborate dinner parties, or spotless homes decorated beautifully. The symbols of our hospitality are often things: food, a welcome mat, special dishes, coffee brewing. We often require extensive planning before we consider ourselves to be showing hospitality. Sometimes it helps to see hospitality through the eyes of a child: simply reaching out a hand of friendship to people who cross our paths.
Did you know I don’t have a Hospitality topic in my topical Bible? I guess it’s never come up intentionally before. Perhaps this would be a good project for us this week to start thinking through. Which passages or stories would you include?