The Hospitalable Homemaker
Earlier this month we hosted the youth devotional in our home. Filling our house with worship, fellowship, and shenanigans of teenagers fills my heart with joy. I love welcoming others into our space, feeding them, and sharing life with them. I also enjoy those first few minutes of quiet after we get the house put “back to normal” and it’s just our family again.
On the surface, those may seem like conflicting statements and emotions. I even thought that to myself as I sighed in relaxation after everyone left and we settled down for the night. Then I realized that my first priority in hospitality is with my own family.
Just like we cannot truly love others unless we love ourselves, we cannot effectively serve outside of our home until we learn to serve in the home. Keyword: effectively. Yes, you can serve in your community or congregation even if you do not do so at home, but the attitude behind it is different. As a wife and mom, I serve my family because I love them and want them to succeed. I do not expect anything in return. When I serve outside of my family, my family serves with me, because they’ve experienced the joy of serving.
Note: None of that means my household is free from arguments, bad attitudes, or stress. We do not always get along perfectly or handle disagreements with grace. However, we take what we learn and try to do better. We take what we learn in the safety of our home into other relationships in the community.
It’s been said that the family is the church in miniature. Remember that the church is not a building, but rather a group of people. Church isn’t a place to go. Church is something to be and do!
In my musings over my seemingly contradicting thoughts, my mind rested on the phrase “keepers at home.” This is found in Titus 2:5 in the King James Version of the Bible. The word used here is only found in this passage. This sent me down some wild rabbit trails – everything from “women should only ever work at home” to “this was a specific suggestion for Paul’s audience at that time.” Like many things, the truth is likely somewhere in the middle. When possible, feasible, and agreeable, I do believe that a stay-at-home mom is the best model to follow. It takes diligence and even sacrifice, but it’s by far the best choice for our family. I also became intrigued by the meaning of the word used here in the original language. The word oikourgos is a compound word. Oik means house, home, or household. Ourgos means to keep watch, guard, and manage. The implication for a wife as manager of the household is much more than simply the domestic duties of cooking, cleaning, and raising children.
Besides my enjoyment of studying words, I also focus on context. Paul is telling Titus how to teach what is right and encourages the church to do the same. He outlines the responsibilities of older men, older women, younger men, younger women, and slaves. Titus 2:3-5 (BSB) says: “Older women, likewise, are to be reverent in their behavior, not slanderers or addicted to much wine, but teachers of good. In this way they can train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, managers of their households, kind, and submissive to their own husbands so that the word of God will not be discredited.” Older women (both in age and in faith) are to teach the younger (both in age and in faith) how to live a godly life in order to show their faith in action. Our culture may be very different than first century Crete in many ways, but one thing is still true. People will SEE our actions before they ever LISTEN to our words.