Saturday, January 1, 2011

Hospitality 101: new thoughts for the new year

I have been reminded recently about hospitality, since a close friend of mine has expressed some interest in increasing their ministry to include more hospitality. I'm always encouraged when someone "gets the hospitality vision", and it makes a bunch of thoughts on this topic come into focus.

In the United States, we are bent on impressing people. It's just part of our culture. It's part of the church culture also. It can be the way we make class distinctions, show allegiance to certain causes or people, and demonstrate our good taste or lack of bad taste.

Rarely, if ever, is hospitality what it should be--even in Christian circles. I know, because everything listed above I've tried to do or am currently struggling with, even to this day. So, it's not like I have it all together, and that is why I feel the need to educate the world.

I wish I did have it all together, but then I'd be too busy being perfect and have no time to blog. So, this is where we are.
So, what should hospitality be? I'd like to think of it as any type of ministry--it's about getting yourself out of the way enough to minister to people's spiritual needs.

How do you know what their spiritual needs are? You get them over and start asking questions-- questions about who they are, and what is bothering them. You try to find out what is going on in their lives and how Christ has been working with them and through them in various ways. You have a Bible open, and you pray while they are talking.

You listen. with your heart..

Can God use me to minister to this person? Do I cry with them? Do I exhort them? Do I do the dishes and let someone else minister to them? Do they need practical help or spiritual help?

You listen to God.

You seek to unloose the bondages that sin has on them. You seek to confess your own sins, as God is using them to talk to you. (this happens often to me) and..

You enjoy them.

No one wants to be a project. Laugh with them. Tell them stories and listen to theirs. Create a friendship. Enjoy their little ones. Just love them. People just want to be loved, you know?

So, what about food? Don't you have to feed people? Yes, of course, you have to feed people. You feed them because it is time to eat--just like you would feed your own family. You feed them because they have hunger needs. You feed them what is healthy and going to make them strong. You don't feed them junk--just like you wouldn't give your own family junk.

Why do people make such a deal over the food, anyway? This is my rule of thumb--if I can not eat it, then why would I want my guests to eat it? I guess it helps that I am a food snob, so most people like the food.

Do I have food disasters? all the time. I just gather up the disaster and serve something else and make a joke about it. Pasta. It's hard to kill pasta, and we have it a lot.
And before you know it, the night is over. All too soon, they go home. And by serving, you were served. By loving, you were loved. By listening, you felt understood. And you never wonder why God says, "Show hospitality.."

May your New Year be filled with guests.

And may your crockpot always be on and your guest bathroom full of toilet paper..


Paula C. said...

Well said. I was thinking about your entries about having kids over - and that is also showing hospitality as well as demonstrating/teaching hospitality to a younger generation.

Mrs. Parunak said...

Haha! I was loving this post, and then I saw that you had labeled it "high brow." Figures! Anyway, terrific thoughts. I have people over a lot, and I am a.l.w.a.y.s. struggling with the desire to impress people.

Herding Grasshoppers said...


Great post!

Years ago I was in a Bible Study focused on hospitality. It was all about the difference between "entertaining" (which is more often about impressing others) and true hospitality - making them welcome, loving them, all the things you said.

Sure it's fun to have a fancy dinner, or party, once in a while, but that's not the definition of hospitality.

I personally know people who have a desire to show hospitality but feel too intimidated by (others'? their own?) expectations.

Roast weenies over a backyard fire pit! Have a movie night and serve popcorn! Have a potluck! Whatever. The important thing is to make people feel welcome in your home and your life.

(stepping off soapbox)


Herding Grasshoppers said...

P.S. Gorgeous photos :D

Organizing Mommy said...

Paula: Yes, our teenage "midnight meals" are all part of it. Mrs. P: You ALWAYS love my high brow thoughts. I write them for you, you know!
Julie: Preach it, girl. Even to the choir--we love it. And some things we have to keep saying over and over and over again!

The dB family said...

Great thoughts! It's been in the back of my mind to have people over more again this year and your post has encouraged me to do just that! Thank you for sharing your thoughts.


Becky said...

You're so very right. That same desire to impress often keeps us from be hospitable if our homes aren't perfect. I used to be like that until circumstances forced me to have people over during home repairs. I quickly learned that a perfect house is far from necessary for us to practice hospitality.