Read Part 3A of What To Do When Long-Term Guests Don’t Help with Meals and Cleanup. Also, Read the other posts in this series, Hospitality: How Much and How Long, Lord? Part 1 and Part 2.
I learned, as my children got older, to give instructions prior to the guests’ arrival as to what was going to be expected of my children work-wise, and then I reminded them (sweetly) in front of our guests, so the guests knew, too. “When we’re finished eating, Dane, remember that you have to unload the dishwasher, and you, Kelsey, have to load it before going back out to play. (Looking at our young guests) Our children always help with the dishes and clean up the kitchen after meals. It won’t take long. If you want you can play outside until they’re done, or if you want to help, then it will go faster; it’s up to you.”
I used this pre-visit talk as a teaching time to explain our Biblical perspective on hospitality, how we’re a living testimony of Christ’s love, and giving them reasons and rationale for the serving that would be expected of them, reminding them of Scriptures that give spiritual motivations, such as sharing Christ with an unsaved guest by word and action but also by the example of how we help and serve and love one another. We also talked about being an example to a young person of helping more in the home. All this done at their level, of course. But, even a very small child can understand quite a bit about sharing Christ with another little child. And they can understand the need to obey and serve.
If our guests’ children hung around the kitchen, which they often did, I would give them little jobs to do, too. “Here, (handing them a towel) would you dry this silverware, please? It goes in that drawer. Thanks!”
I always tried to keep my voice sweet, and made the chore time or cleanup time as cheerful and inviting as possible. My children were proud of being hard workers, so, especially with an audience, felt a certain pride in how quickly and adeptly they could get the work done. They were also motivated to move quickly, so they could get back to playing. I would help when the children were young, but as they got older, I would leave them to finish by themselves, and often our guests’ children would help them (this was more true of dinner guests than long-term guests).
I didn’t force my adult guests, of course, but most will help, if asked. There is no reason you should do all the work when you have adult guests able to help. However, if you do, you need to see this as an offering to the Lord. And for me, it was a reminder to be more helpful when in others’ homes! Male guests will sometimes sit and expect to be waited on, but I have never had a woman guest who did not do some of the work. Most offered, I occasionally asked.
Do ask for their help, and tell them what you need done and show them how, if necessary. They can’t be expected to know how you do things, or read your mind on what is next to do. They may feel they’re doing you a service by staying out of the kitchen, and out of your hair. Phyllis, in a comment on Part 3A, gave a testimony of how her guest felt “useless” and “left out” when her intent was to honor her guest and treat her with kindness. This is certainly something to consider!
Ask your guests’ children, especially, for their help. The benefits are that children who have not been trained to do work in the home may learn how, find that the comraderie working together as a family is very enjoyable, and learn skills that they can use throughout their lifetime.
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