Hospitality: The quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.
Does the idea of hospitality paralyze you with doubt?
A natural flow before the internet replaced the over the fence chats with neighbors, now might feel overwhelming.
People gathered with neighbors to pass the time with card games and were aware of the needs of others, prepared to bring a meal.
It was just part of living in community.
It still can be, simply, without the fanfare of being a “should” on our task lists.
Treating people in a warm and generous way with a little practice can be an easy joy to implement.
Let’s start by taking our current circumstances into account. We might have grandiose ideas of what it means to welcome people into our homes, creating experiences that offer them a wonderful time. A Pinterest perfect gathering.
That is hospitality, it’s true.
Yet, there is another offering that comes with a much smaller scope. Appropriate for the fuller times. The harder times. The broke times. When we are without inspiration.
It is the gift of availability. An easier hospitality, perhaps.
When we keep our lives too full, too busy, we not only burn ourselves out, we also leave no margin to see the smaller needs. Small only by our current definition of serving others.
The invitation of the heart is a powerful thing to those suffering. Having space in our lives to be flexible with our hospitality opens up new opportunities.
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” – MATTHEW 25:44-45
We All Have a Circle of Influence
Let that sink in. If you feel your offerings are too meager, that hospitality isn’t your gift, that your house is too small, your kids too unruly, your menu too sparse to share, or your time too stretched.
Think instead about what you CAN offer today. It will matter to someone on the receiving end, perhaps more than you know. Your presence is the gift. Your willingness of time.
This has been a long road of redefining what hospitality means for me. I have always loved planning gatherings! Making dinner for many. Planning tea parties with all the trimmings. Opening the door with delight. However, life changed.
“Jesus said in His kingdom, the ‘smallest of all seeds’ will leave a lasting impact much larger than expected (see Matt. 13:31–32). In the same way, the ‘smallest’ things in our lives—ordinary days and meals and homes—can have a much larger impact than you’d ever imagine when harnessed with gospel intentionality.”- Dustin Willis, The Simplest Way to Change the World: Biblical Hospitality as a Way of Life
After decades of chronic illness, I lost my spark. This all became more than I could handle. For me, a natural hostess, this was a difficult process of letting go.
In the hard things though, God is always good. He comforts us when seasons change and helps us find new ways to use our passions and gifts.
Detours from our elaborate plans, ready to surprise us with unexpected delights. Fancy parties are fun! However, that is not all hospitality entails.
Create a new vision, based on your interest and ability.
Just open the door, people want to be invited…most of all. To be seen. That takes surprisingly little effort on our part and yields a great return. For the recipient who feels special, and for the hostess who is also restored by the connection.
Whether you’re swamped as a mom of littles, busy working at a demanding job, or just don’t enjoy hospitality, keep it simple! Remember that people are NOT looking at our mess and judging our homes. They are honored to be important to you and invited.
4 Small but Mighty Ways to Live a Life of Welcome
- Invite people to a cup of tea, instead of a whole meal. Put 2 pretty teacups (or chipped coffee cups!) on the coffee table. Add a flower from the garden. If you have cloth napkins, or a candle those add a nice touch. You can bake a treat or put a bowl of nuts. The actual components themselves are not what makes this special. It is amazing how these tiny measures create a feeling of sanctuary and respite for our guest. This is hospitality of intimacy.
- Margin allows us to hear of a need and offer assistance. For example, a meal train for a new mother or sick family. An elderly neighbor or lonely church widow. A friend of mine has had a tiny “ministry” of taking meals to neighbors for years. She is a busy woman, and yet the time spent blessing those people restores her as well. A meal is a powerful comfort in times of need. This is the hospitality of helping.
- If these are more than you can offer right now, consider sending happy mail. For example, I collect vintage stationery, and occasionally sit and write out cards. Or send my grandma, suffering from dementia, articles on the arts or other things she’d enjoy tucked in. Melting a bit of wax on the envelope, a brass stamp imprints “with love” into the puddle. The texture takes 30 seconds but is a delight for someone pulling out junk mail from the box to see a warm hello. Letting people know they are thought of, is hospitality of spirit.
- Host a game night. This is an evening that requires almost zero effort. Serving a budget selection of popcorn and a pitcher of Kool-Aid, is as welcome to a guest as a full course meal when accompanied by a good time. It takes the pressure off the hostess to entertain, as the game itself propels the conversations. People always ask if they can bring something, say yes! The hospitality of laughter revives the soul.
“My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest” – Isaiah 32:18
In a world of uncertainty, our homes can offer a temporary sanctuary against all the outside hardships. A place of rest for our friends and family. For an acquaintance that just isn’t a friend “yet”. For a struggling family.
Our kitchens can offer relief by bringing hospitality to others.
Our hands can offer hospitality of love even through the mail service.
Big and small, it all matters.
Your offering is vital to someone. And through your willingness to entertain new ideas in your unique sphere of influence we all come away blessed… and by doing what IS possible for your circumstance today you will be blessed too♥.
If there is anything more you’d like to chat with me about hospitality, please reach out!