I like to tell younger ladies who may be daunted by the idea of having people visit in their homes on a regular basis: There's a difference between hospitality and entertaining. One finds its focus on the respite of the guest; the other on the accomplishment of the host.
The Bible teaches us to be hospitable: "Show hospitality to one another without grumbling," (1 Peter 4:9) but it never requires of us to be impressive. In fact, Martha was told she was prioritizing unwisely for being the "hostesss with the mostest." Why do I bring this up? Because there is so much joy to be had in being hospitable. And so many times we miss out on this joy by being overly concerned about the dusting we are behind on, or the time we might be giving up in order to make time to show hospitality. Then, we wonder why we are not engaged in deeper, more genuine relationships.
I don't think there is a better way to get to know someone besides having a friend or even a stranger (Hebrews 13:2) in your home. Wonderful hospitality is most often associated with a sense of rest, a lack of pretense, genuine conversation, and an overall value on relationship rather than resplendence. You see, it really has nothing to do with how big your house is, how nice your furnishings, how well you cook, or how much time you have. It only takes a willingness to share what God's blessed you with, however humble, with someone else, however needy. While writing this post, I thought to interview my Mom-in-Law, who has shown hospitality year after year, during plentiful and meager times alike. Here's how it went:
Me: Mom, you are one of the most hospitable people I know. Tell me what you think are the most important things to remember about hospitality.
Mom: Oh boy...well, it depends on whether you are prepared for it or not.
Me: Right, because if you are planning a dinner party 3 months out, you are still being hospitable, but there is much time to plan and present your best.
Mom: Well, hospitality is an attitude, so when you don't have much time to prepare for it, you have to really work on your attitude to be right. It's always better to be prepared in attitude even if you are not prepared for the occasion.
Me: You see, you have some great insights on hospitality. That's your first one: "Hospitality is an attitude rather than an action." So, here's a pencil and a pad of paper. Go ahead and share your wisdom about hospitality while I wait for the laundry to get done. (I then proceeded to take a 15 minute nap.)
So here it is, Mom's 10 Thoughts on Hospitality:
- Hospitality is more of an attitude than an action.
- True hospitality focuses on people, not things.
- Hospitable people listen more than talk.
- Hospitality is generous and extravagant, but never wasteful.
- Hospitality sees beyond surface needs to heart needs.
- Hospitality requires hard work and a loving attitude.
- Hospitality brings great joy because it is based on your value of the people in your life.
- Hospitable people always receive gifts gracefully because of value of the giver.
- Hospitality tries to remember lessons learned for next time.
- Hospitality is a God-given gift for self and others.
Thanks for the great insights, Mom!
I pray you all are blessed and encouraged to today, to be a blessing and encouragement to another, through hospitality.