How To Practice Practical Hospitality
The Merriam-Webster defines hospitality as: “generous and friendly treatment of visitors and guests”.
Why should we practice hospitality?
I love how the New Living Translation says it:8
8 Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. ~1 Peter 4:8-9
13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. ~Romas 12:13
And then there’s this:2
2 Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! ~Hebrews 13:2
What is hospitality?
Hospitality is hosting. It’s inviting people over and purposefully pouring yourself into them when they may or may not have anything to offer in return. And, the scripture above says we should do that cheerfully as in with a cheerful heart!
Do you have a hospitable heart?
As you consider what the above scripture says about practicing hospitality, you may think back on a time when you tried to reach out with friendship and were met with rejection. Be careful not to let Satan use that rejection as a roadblock to keep you from reaching out again. If we are to cultivate a hospitable heart, we need to lay aside those past rejections, grudges, and any past hurts that resulted.
Hospitality seems to be becoming a lost art.
There was a time when hospitality was a regular part of life. But, today’s generation has learned the art of outsourcing hospitality. Can you say restaurants and hotels? Back in the biblical days, Christ himself was fed and offered rest in homes that were practicing biblical hospitality. In those days when people were traveling, it was a given that they would be provided a meal and a place to rest their head in someone’s home.
My personal experience with hospitality:
In writing this, I am reminded of last August when my friend Joyce and I found ourselves in need of refuge. We had driven an hour away from home and were shopping in one of our favorite vintage shops when thunderstorms rolled in. These were some severe storms producing heavy rain that resulted in flash flood warnings in all of the surrounding areas. We found ourselves in a panic trying to figure out the safest route home. We attempted to head home, but we had to take detours because of dangerous flooding on the main roads that led back. In the meantime, our husbands were calling and texting us to tell us not to attempt to come home that it wasn’t safe. The closed routes that we needed to take to get out of the area were of no help. We had no choice but to head back to the shop to ask where the closest hotel would be from there and if we could get to it. By this time the nearby dam was compromised, and it was a high possibility that there would be a breach in the barrier. The only hotel we could physically drive to was in the direction of the dam. Due to flooding, the closed roads to the other hotels were not an option. We had no choice but to attempt to navigate to that hotel. As we were sitting in the vehicle with darkness surrounding us and pouring rain beating down accompanied by bright bolts of lightning and loud claps of thunder, there was a sudden, unexpected knock on my window. It was Peggy, the owner of the shop who had run out in the rain to catch us before we left to tell us to come to her house for the night. She and her husband knowing our predicament were concerned for our welfare. We didn’t make her ask twice. YES…we will! And, what a relief that was for Joyce and me! As we left the shop, Peggy led the way, and her husband followed us all to ensure that we safely reached their home not many miles away. Once we were inside, Peggy asked if we had eaten supper. We had not. She pulled out leftover spaghetti and fried chicken, and we sat down to eat. While Joyce and I were eating, she went upstairs for a little bit and returned with two t-shirts, two new toothbrushes, and a new tube of toothpaste in hand. We sat in her living room and watched and listened to the news, amazed at the events unfolding so closely around us. The more we saw and heard the more grateful we were to be sitting there safe in a strange place with someone who started as a stranger but was quickly becoming a friend at 11:00 o’clock at night. When we were ready for bed, Peggy led us upstairs to the guest room. Joyce and I changed into our t-shirts, brushed our teeth and climbed into the king size bed. We laid there and discussed the events of the day and were in total disbelief of where that night had landed us. It was a very surreal moment for both of us. The next morning we got up and went downstairs where Peggy greeted us and offered us breakfast. We had heard that the water had receded on the main roads and we were anxious to get home, so we just decided to grab a bite on our way. We extended our sincere thanks to Peggy and said our farewells.
Hospitality is purposefully pouring yourself into others who may or may not have anything to offer in return.
Y’all! THAT is hospitality! I know the verse above says, “for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it” but on that dark stormy night, Joyce and I both felt like an angel was entertaining us.
Hospitality or Entertaining? Is there really a difference?
There’s a lot of controversy about the differences in hospitality and entertaining. Entertaining is often perceived as a time when the host is trying to impress their guests with their beautiful home, furnishings, and, great cooking. I guess this is where I go against the grain. Please show me a little grace here. But for me, entertaining IS showing hospitality. When I’m serving guests in my home, I want to give them my best without putting on a show. Can’t a person entertain in a simple, casual way? In my case, my favorite form of entertaining is casual, relaxed, and very chill. But, what if I do want to fancy things up just a little? What’s wrong with that? Whether it’s casual or kicked it up a notch, I think it’s a great thing to be made to feel special and to make others feel that way sometimes too. Let’s look at one of the above verses again but this time in the King James Version:
2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. ~ Hebrews 13:2
Do you see that? The word entertain is used twice in this passage. Here, we are being instructed to “entertain”. The two go hand-in-hand. I believe you can graciously extend hospitality through entertaining and serving others. What the scriptures don’t mention is our home furnishings, table setting, or even what the menu should be. That’s because genuinely pouring ourselves into others whether we call it hospitality or entertaining triumphs how our house is furnished, decorated, or what dishes you use.
How do we practice hospitality?
- Keep it simple, relaxed, warm, and comfortable – This is about the experience for you and your guest. Plan a simple menu as less work and details allow more time to get to know and enjoy your guests.
- Express your desire to be casual – When inviting people into your home, let them know you’re having them over so you can get to know them. It won’t be anything fancy, but you’ll be spending time together.
- Share stories – One of my favorite things about having people in your home is sharing stories. I love hearing how couples met and how their stories began.
- Be yourself – it is a good feeling to present your true self to people. As your guests see the real you, they will be more likely to be themselves.
How do you cultivate a heart for hospitality?
As you find yourself thinking about how to practice practical hospitality in your home, you may be asking yourself how to get started. Here are some suggestions:
- Compile a list of easy and inexpensive recipes for meals, desserts, or simple snacks.
- Make a list of people who would be encouraged by being a guest in your home.
- Make preparations to invite those guests soon.
- Invite someone spontaneously after church – it’s a great way to start.
- Pray and ask God to fill you with joy as you demonstrate Christ-like character to your guests.
- Relax and enjoy yourself and your guests as you get to know each other better.
- Strive to nurture a heart for biblical hospitality that sincerely communicates, “You’re welcome back anytime!”.
The Bible makes it pretty clear that we are to be practicing hospitality. And, I’ll be the first to admit that I have lacked in this area. This year, I plan on working to cultivate my own heart in regards to reaching out and purposefully pouring myself into others.
With a willing heart and a little practice inviting people over can become a routine part of life. The more you practice hospitality, the more natural it will come. And as you welcome people into your home, you’ll soon see that there are blessings in it for you as well as your guests.
How about you? Do you already have the knack for hospitality? If so, I would love for you to share what you enjoy about it and any tips you might have on keeping it enjoyable but simple.
Here are four books on hospitality that I plan to read.