Hospitality is {not} a Dirty Word, Part 1

by tiffany on June 10, 2010 in Hospitality, Ministry, Servanthood

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As a newly wed, desperately trying to acclimate myself to the mysterious – in my mind –  roles of homemaker and wife, I would shudder at the mere mention of hospitality. For my introverted and mostly private personality the thought of opening my home to others was not appealing. It has taken me several years feeling my way through these roles to learn what hospitality is not.

Hospitality is not showing off a perfectly kept home.

Hospitality is not about showcasing my Food Channel Network capabilities.

Hospitality is not serving guests with fine china and crystal goblets.

Hospitality is not only for people with big houses.

Hospitality is not about being an excellent conversationalist.

Hospitality is not about having a big budget.

Hospitality is not always written into the calendar.

Hospitality is not synonymous with entertaining.

The Bible has a very different definition of hospitality and tells us exactly what hospitality is.

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. 1 Peter 4:8-10

The biggest challenge that God has lain upon my heart through my journey to understand what hospitality is and is not, is that hospitality does not ask me to be impressive – with my home, with my food, with myself. Lay the measuring stick of perfectionism aside, and open your doors wide. Simply share with others what God has blessed you with – no matter what that is or looks like. When we choose to practice biblical hospitality we will soon learn that it is a lifestyle that spills from our heart.

Hospitality, just like all areas of our life, is an opportunity to be an example to our daughters. I do not believe that every area of homemaking  has to be formally taught, we can just live it out in front of our children – our daughters, including them along the way. (I think it is best when it is caught rather than taught most times.) That is what I do with my four year old Cadi. It means that when a play mate is coming over, she helps me prepare her toy room, and we do so joyfully. I include her in preparing our home and food for our guests. Yes, this takes extra time, extra patience, extra diligence – we must be intentional.  But if I am doing a biblical job in my modeling, she will not really be modeling me but rather Jesus Christ.  After all He is whom I desire for my daughter to look like – not me.

Simple stated hospitality is loving people. When we welcome people into our home, when we serve them, when we delight in their presence, we are showing the world that we love people. While welcoming people into our churches is good; when we welcome people into our home we are welcoming them into a sacred, intimate part of our life. We are showing them love without expecting a reciprocal invitation. We are not performing. We are simply sharing our home, our food, and most importantly, we are sharing our lives.

tiffany

I am my husband's Sweetheart, my childrens Mommy, and daughter of the King. I spend my days loving and teaching my children. I am just an ordinary housewife serving my extraordinary God. My days are blessed. I blog at www.amomentcherished.com and love having guests.

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{ 45 comments }

Debra June 10, 2010

beautifully written, and so true!

Lisa S. June 10, 2010

Amen! So very true.

Katie June 10, 2010

Thanks for a great post! Lately, I have been extra food for Sunday lunch in an effort to ask people over for lunch from church and I have to constantly remind myself to do it “without grumbling”.

Shawn June 10, 2010

So very true! Thank you for the reminder. Hospitality is something that my family needs practice with. I can relate to the HOSPITALITY IS NOT list. Thank you

Anna June 10, 2010

Good stuff.
It’s difficult to open your home (which is sort of an extension of yourself) when you have experienced a great deal of criticism in your life. Makes you cringe away from exposing yourself to more.

Carmen at Old House Kitchen June 10, 2010

Amen!

Melissa G June 10, 2010

Great article, Tiffany! When we were first married I used to take DAYS to try to make my house perfect before having anyone over. The Lord has changed me since then and I’m not nearly so obsessive about it, but i still have to fight my tendencies to want everything absolutely perfect and constantly apologizing for things when people come over unexpectedly and it isn’t so. I have a neighbor who has been the most excellent example of humble christ-honoring hospitality. She’s got 5 children 11 and under whom she homeschools. She also babysits to boys before and after the boys get on/off the bus each day. Yet, she is always so friendly, willing to open her home to me, and invite me and the kids over. Or just visit. She doesn’t obsess about her home. And her home isn’t a pig sty, but with 5 children it can’t help but be well lived in.

Anyway, I realized several years ago that my obsessing about having a perfect home is more an issue of pride and something I need to seek God to help me overcome.

Tammy June 10, 2010

Well put!

Phyllis June 10, 2010

This is wonderful food for thought. Thank you for sharing this thoughtful advise.

Michelle June 10, 2010

You know, this is a great reminder. When my husband and I first got together, we were invited over to a friend’s house. The wife made this incredible meal including home-made tortilla chips and salsa, lots of fabulous entrees and a delightful dessert. The dishes were fancy and all matched, the house was immaculate. While we had a great time, I came home thinking how inept I was at entertaining. Our dishes are a mish-mash of different styles. I am not a great cook and my house is decorated in yard-sale chic. For YEARS, I would side-step my husband’s requests to ask so and so over for dinner. It even caused arguments between us.
Thankfully, years later, I have learned that life is not a competition. My friends will still love me with my mis-matched silverware and raggedy couch. I would miss out on many laughs and good times if I still had the old attitude of not being good enough.

Emily June 10, 2010

Thank you for this post. I have had this same struggle~I’m a very private person as well & have always felt an “intrusion” when people show up at the door unexpectedly. I have always worried about the house being “perfect”. I love how you have defined hospitality so well! I am learning to embrace this role of being a keeper at home, too… Thanks for the reminder that our daughters are watching (I have 5 of them!)

Heather June 10, 2010

This is a wonderful post and very encouraging for me! I must admit that I get caught up in making sure my home/food/conversation is perfect.
Thank you for the post, Tiffany, it is beautifully written.
~Heather
P.S. I really hope I have a little girl some day to share the joys of homemaking with! 🙂

Jen Kindle June 10, 2010

I like this! My husband is not a Christian but we have begun the hospitality with his family when they come to visit and have slowly begun to add others as he is comfortable with them. Even the children have been taught to welcome their friends and adults and to see them to the door and weather permitting to their cars or the end of the walk if they walked over when their visit is done.

abba12 June 10, 2010

My mum would not have anyone over without a full and flustered cleaning first, often upsetting the mood, and then stressing about ‘doing it right’ while they were present.

As I type this I have two friends in my lounge room, which makes up a full third of our tiny one bedroom apartment. One is all but homeless right now and will be staying on our couch all weekend, the other a close friend of his, and in almost as bad a shape, both in need of real food, food that dosen’t involve water and a microwave.

I mightn’t be much of a hostess, and we mightn’t have much room, or even a spare bed. The unit is so crowded that even when it’s clean it looks messy, and a lack of circulation gives it a mild but constant smell that, despite my attempts to lessen it, won’t leave.

But I share what I can, and right now I consider myself a reasonable cook, certainly better than what they eat at ‘home’, and I can help take away some stress, I can make them laugh. I can offer a safe place, and a couch, and some blankets, and I can offer fun evenings and friendship.

I don’t say this to say ‘look how good I am’, I say it to show that even in circumstances that seem completely impossible to offer hospitality in, I find myself feeding these boys at least twice a week, and they know they are welcome when they need to come here, as do others. We have guests coming and going all the time right now, both for leisure and nececity, it’s a busy time of year, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What excuse do you have? 🙂

Tiffany June 10, 2010

This is an excellent article!

Robin June 10, 2010

Thank you so much for writing this! I am struggling with getting my home in order (after 16 years of marriage, no less!) and am still self-conscious when someone “stops by”, or I don’t get everything perfect before they come. I probably do more to draw attention to the mess by immediately apologizing for it, but I can’t seem to help myself!

Tiffany (As For My House) June 10, 2010

Wonderful, thank you for sharing this!

Between my introverted personality, and my perfectionism / fear of criticism, this is an area that challenges me greatly.

My mother (not Christian) did not practice it, and I know I have to “grow up” quick so that I can be a better odel o my daughter…

Katie Phillips June 10, 2010

A new definition on the word Hospitality. Yea, you see I’ve always been one of those who cringes over the idea of house guests. And on the rare holiday that all my family comes over here instead of us going to their place I clean till everything shines. It’s so exhausting I just don’t do it more than once every 3 years. 🙂 I’ll have to work on that. My problem is all my homemaking skills have been “caught” not “taught” so I’m going to have to catch some more skills with the hospitality idea. Great article!

Sarah June 10, 2010

Thank you! This is exactly an area I have been wanting to grow in. Over the years I have gotten better about not letting my perfectionism over shadow having guests now I just need to not worry about what the house looks like after having a house full of people! 🙂

Rebecca June 10, 2010

Thought provoking and inspiring post…thank you! It is often the people who are the least work to prepare for that appreciate our hospitality the most: widowers, children from at-risk homes, senior saints, and single folks. A cup of coffee (or kool-aid) and a quiet heart that is willing to listen is all these folks need.

Robin June 10, 2010

Great article!

Dellaina June 10, 2010

I think I have the opposite struggle of Melissa G. She struggles with obsessing about a clean home. I probably should obsess more. 😉 I would be more inclined to answer the phone or door if my house weren’t in a constant state of chaos. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should be picked up enough that my husband can invite someone over for dinner unexpectedly. (Or at the very least, be 5 minutes from that state at any given time. ha!)

Thank you for the reminder that standards of cleanliness don’t exist just for the sake of being clean, but also to help us obey the call to be hospitable without a second thought. “Be ready with an answer” will always remind me now to be ready with a picked-up home.

alicia June 10, 2010

Thanks! This is great tips for someone that could use some work in this department.

Laurie June 10, 2010

The part about hospitality not being a performance really spoke right to me…I tend to treat having someone over-even family- just like a performance, but I don’t think I was completely aware of that until I read this post!

Anna June 10, 2010

Love this!

Mrs. V June 10, 2010

Nice post! I don’t keep an immaculate home but I do like to use nice dishes and cups when we have visitors. I like them to feel special in our home and important enough to bring out the “good” stuff.

Diane June 10, 2010

This was just a great article… I especially liked this statement: “hospitality does not ask me to be impressive”.

Honestly, that just hit me right between the eyes. And it got me to thinking that often when I do go all out for a guest, my true motivation is not so much to make them feel comfortable and welcome, but rather to show off my skills or my home. And we all know what that is: our old friend, pride. *ouchie*

Bonnie Adams June 10, 2010

Growing up, my parents practiced hospitality regularly – in fact, we planned sunday dinner to include another family, and if there wasn’t someone already invited, we found someone at church to follow us home. As an adult, I love having people over- And having someone just stop by makes my day! I’m sure it is in large part to growing up and having it such a normal thing.

Brooke Weldon June 10, 2010

Wonderful words. God has given you wisdom in this and I thank you for sharing it.

Lynn June 10, 2010

This is a great post on hospitality. Thank you for the tips and reminders. I am loving this site!

Lauren June 10, 2010

We have an open house, so my husband can come home from a trip to the shops with someone for a meal, and it’s okay.

I always have something in the freezer that will do a meal in a pinch. The best is pizza loaf — it only takes half an hour from start to finish if the meat sauce is already prepared (and conveniently stored in the freezer).
http://www.sparklingadventures.com/index.php?id=897

We love to have people stay too. So I always try to have the spare beds made in advance for those unexpected guests. People are gracious to all circumstances when you’re showing hospitality, and to anyone who hesitates, I would just encourage them to reach out and invite someone in!

Lee June 10, 2010

This is so lacking in churches today, we facebook, we text, but we don’t invite people into our homes, and so we truly keep people at arms length from our lives. Nothing connects people like spending time in their house, seeing their personality in their photos and frames, and being with them where they are most at ease.

Great job, Tiffany! Let’s also keep in mind that this is for dad’s too! (1 Timothy 3:2 if you believe like I do that dad’s are pastors of their own family!)

Katie June 10, 2010

Ok, I’m inspired. This sunday I’m inviting someone over for lunch.

Susanne June 10, 2010

Great post!
Looking forward to more.
Blessings

Tara H. June 11, 2010

Love the website! Great encouragement.

Shelley C June 11, 2010

When we first became believers, I struggled with hospitality too…I was very open to it but I think my motive was more one of pride. I would get so stressed with the cleaning and I would cook the best I had….now, serving the best I had was my desire to serve as Christ would, but I would get so stressed and take it out on the kids with short tempered attitude the whole while. After many years, I am much more relaxed and do what I can and not stress about it. I enjoy hospitality and do it often.

Laura @ Just For Love June 11, 2010

Tiff, I LOVED this post. Packed full of love, wisdom, and just plain ol’ good advice. Job well done. : )

Britta June 11, 2010

Thank you so much for that! I loved the part about how you want your daughter to look like Jesus Christ and not like you. That is so true. I don’t know how some people raise families without knowing Him.

Thank you for the inspiration today. (My daughter is having a paper doll party at my home tomorrow and I really needed to read that today). Take care!

melanie simpson June 11, 2010

Thank you for this encouragement! As homemakers and mothers we so often walk that road between the ditches of comparison and judgement, so often falling into one of the ditches when it comes to opening up our homes to others. A great reminder to not be so prideful in our thinking – take the focus of ourselves and our insecurities; rather, we should focus on how practicing hospitality reflects His desire for us to love one another.

Lisa Miser June 13, 2010

My husband and I are missionaries in Bolivia and even though I say that one of my main ministries, apart from my husband and toddler, is hospitality- it can still be such a challenge to do it joyfully! Thanks for the great reminder about what the Bible has to say about hospitality.

Angie Spencer June 15, 2010

I just love how you have painted hospitality to be. Thank you. I have a clearer vision now that I didn’t have before.

Carrie June 23, 2010

Great post, Tiffany – I knew it was yours as soon as I saw the picture! 🙂 Great reminder that we need to open our homes – and use the gifts that God has given us, rather than trying to be perfect and show off – a really good reminder for someone who lives in a little trailer because of the ministry we’re involved in. 🙂

Katherine June 28, 2010

Wonderful, Just wonderful !

LeAnn July 30, 2010

I am so glad I clicked and found your blog through another friend. This post was so perfectly timed for me. The first time I really took an honest look at this subject was through a book that is now a favorite,
“Open Heart, Open Home”
Thanks for bringing it back to my attention again, right when it was needed.
This reminder was needed:
“hospitality does not ask me to be impressive”.
Though we do have tons of people over I still get caught up in what the place looks like, my cooking skills…
It really IS about loving people, not show casing ME…that looks really brutal in print, but sometimes I think I get the two mixed up a bit. Thanks for the reminder to love like Christ love’s. Blessings on your journey!

Shellie August 9, 2010

I live overseas, and I often find myself flustered at the cultural differences b/w my western idea of hospitality and what is culturally appropriate and expected here. I find myself grumbling and complaining about what we’re “expected” to do… I repent. “… loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins…” and cultural misunderstanding. [smile] May I be a good steward of my time, my home, my relationships…

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