Xenodochy: The Lost Art of Hospitality
As a teacher of over three decades, there are several things I have noticed that have changed with kids through the years. Though children of the 21st century enjoy multiple advancements in the way our world operates and communicates, many come to school without training in the basics of life. As a middle school teacher who has frequent lunch duties, there is a growing number whose parents have not taught table manners or many others basic appropriate social interactions, it seems. It is not reflexive with school-age children today to say ‘please’ after a request and ‘thank you’ afterward. Many do not have good models of social behavior from the adults in their lives. Xenodochy, or hospitality, is becoming a rare thing in our society and it is not a surprise that kids are lacking in this area.
The word, xenodochy, is an ancient Greek word meaning the care and concern of your guests or, hospitality. This hospitality includes anticipating your guests’ needs and making them a priority over your own. There was a time, when I was young, where I witnessed neighbors helping each other and if you were a guest in someone’s home, they treated you with dignity and respect. As a guest, you were gracious visitors. These memories bring an ache to my heart as I look out over my classroom and think of what so many kids are missing. A growing number of my middle school students have no idea what dignity is and they think adults demands respect by shouting. We would all fare better with a little more xenodochy in our lives.
1. Being hospitable toward others is a command of God.
In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25, Jesus makes a list of actions (or inactions) of His people and points out that how we treat others reflects our relationship with God. If we feed the hungry, visit the sick or the prisoner, it reflects our dedication and obedience to God. By being inhospitable to others, it’s a rejection of God.
2. Making the choice to be hospitable is choosing to put others’ needs before your own.
Hospitality is incompatible with selfishness. If you watch the news on a daily basis, it’s becoming clear that many have made room in their hearts for only their own points of view and wants and needs. By being hospitable, you make the choice to look at other’s needs before your own, which fosters a positive interaction. Receiving people with kindness and graciousness is a gift you can give to others and to yourself. It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)
Hospitality is incompatible with selfishness. Ifyou watch the news on a daily basis, it’s becoming clear that many have made room in their hearts for only their own points of view and wants and needs. By being hospitable, you make the choice to look at other’s needs before your own, which fosters a positive interaction. Receiving people with kindness and graciousness is a gift you can give to others and to yourself. It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)
3. When you are hospitable, you create an atmosphere of dignity and respect.
By treating your guests with dignity and respect, you show, on a practical level, that they have value. When those who visit in your home feel welcomed and valued, it opens opportunities for many positive things. Hospitality establishes a safe and friendly environment.
4. Being hospitable sets a good example for children.
Our children live what they know. I remember my parents teaching me that I should let my guests choose what game we played or what to have for a snack. They taught me that there are many things in life that are, “not about me.”
These real-life lessons in hospitality and selflessness enabled me to grow up with this pattern of behavior engrained in me. Whether we like it or not, kids watch the adults in their lives and will emulate many of the examples they have seen and experienced when they become adults.
5. Being hospitable to everyone is a gracious choice.
We do not know what others’ journeys have been like, therefore, having a hospitable attitude in all circumstances can help others who may be in need. Everyone experiences a hard season of life and any time we can be gracious, we are aiding others in their struggles rather than adding on to them.
In addition to this, Hebrews 13:2 reminds us that, you never know, you could show hospitality to angels and not even know of it.
It’s always a good choice to be hospitable.