Be hospitable to one another without complaint. 1Peter 4:9
Do you enjoy having friends over for lunch or hosting a neighborhood Bible study? Is your house where family gathers on Thanksgiving? Or, maybe you’re the one who opens her home for the Christmas cookie exchange?
If you said yes to any of the above, chances are you have the gift of hospitality.
The first nonfiction Christian book I ever read had to do with hospitality. Written by author Karen Burton Mains, Open Heart Open Home is still one of my favorites.
I wasn’t raised by a mom who loved dinner guests and to be honest, if genetics play a part of this spiritual benevolence, it was my father who passed along this holy DNA. Dad was the one who invited people over and sprung it on mom.
Mom didn’t enjoy the work involved to prepare for guests. All the cleaning and cooking to prepare was just one more thing for her to do. It was disappointing to me as a child when company was cancelled because I wanted so much for our home to be where people ate and stayed a while.
“Hospitality, however, seeks to minister. It says, “This home is not mine. It is truly a gift from my Master. I am His servant and I use it as He desires.” Hospitality does not try to impress, but to serve.” Karen Burton Mains, Open House – Open Home
We’ve lived in Tennessee for two years and in those twenty-four months in the south we’ve opened our home and our hearts approximately 35 different times (not days–times) for company to stay for a few nights. Dozens of family and friends and even a few strangers have stayed with us. This doesn’t include weekly small groups or kids and their friends for dinner.
Hospitality Brings The World TO Your Kids
My children have sat around our table and enjoyed conversation with everyone from Russian missionaries, Chinese students from Beijing to Fortune 500 businessmen. Though we’ve never served the Lord out of our country, my husband and I serve the Lord by serving others with our best here.
Lydia in the Bible shared all she had with others, too. She was a businesswoman who sold purple and linen, but still made time to open her home. Her hospitality example was immortalized by Luke’s pen in the book of Acts:
Acts 16:14-15 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.
Lydia was a lovely example of persuading others to feel welcome. There’s a few things I try to teach my children by this example.
- It’s not about what you have. It’s about how much you care.
People don’t care how nice your things are, they respond to how much you care. Don’t wait until you paint that room or buy new curtains, or replace a rug. There will always be someone with nicer things, but hospitality isn’t about things at all. It’s about opening your home and welcoming someone in. It’s an exercise of love to share a sanctuary place of refreshment.
“Hospitality, however, seeks to minister. It says, “This home is not mine. It is truly a gift from my Master. I am His servant and I use it as He desires.” Hospitality does not try to impress, but to serve.” Karen Burton Mains
- Children should receive our best hospitality–first.
I’ve heard quite a few women share, “I only use my china on Christmas.” Or, “I only use my nice silverware for company.” Our family should get our nicest and our best, not just company or for Easter breakfast. Don’t be afraid to use your grandmother’s platter for taco night.
- Servanthood starts young.
My teenage son has gives up his bed for company. He sleeps on our couch or on an air mattress. I overhear guests thank him for allowing them the luxury of his room for their stay. No matter how much he jokes about us having too much company, he enjoys making people feel at home.
There’s no better way to teach a child hospitality than by serving. Have them bring dessert to the table. Let them go around and ask company if they’d like more tea, water, or encourage a child to sit with you while you visit. Children learn what they live. Hospitality is a gift and one that can be learned, too.
Don’t let a less than perfect Pinterest-perfect home keep you from opening your door wide and welcoming a few people inside.
Your children are watching. Teach hospitality by your humility and kindness. Nothing says I care about you, like an open door and a smile.
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2