“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:8-9
There’s nothing more precious to me than a dinner table. A table full of friends and food and laughter is just the best. That’s what home feels like to me. Gathering up my favorite people and spending time just enjoying one another’s others company makes my heart swell up with happiness. Those moments in time are why hospitality exists. Hospitality is simply accepting people into your life, home, or situation. I’ve found that most people have a lot of reservations about hospitality and misconceptions.
Let’s talk about what hospitality is NOT for a second:
Hospitality is not having a perfect home, meal, or night planned for people.
Hospitality is not decorations or twinkly lights.
Hospitality is not having people over every night of the week.
Hospitality is not a clean home.
Hospitality is not and should not be a massive drain on you but rather a joy.
Now let’s talk about what hospitality IS:
Hospitality is welcoming people into your heart.
Hospitality is loving others and working on building a community.
Hospitality is open to all and never discriminates based on looks or talents.
Hospitality is God given and spirit led.
For me personally, hospitality looks like hosting a small group. Every Thursday night a group of awesome people gather in my apartment and talk about Jesus. My preparations typically consist of fluffing the pillows and wiping down my kitchen counter. A good week might include dusting. Maybe. I’m not saying this to imply I never clean my house but rather, I don’t clean my house just for my small group. I once heard a wise woman say, “If you’re coming to see me, come on over. If you’re coming to see my house, make an appointment.” Creating a space for community is not dependent upon a pretty environment or façade. I’m not really sure where this idea came from but I see it constantly present in nearly every female I meet. Men, y’all just seem to get this. I’ve never seen a man apologize over the pizza boxes left on the counter or flattened pillows. Ladies, I think we need to take a page out of their book and join in the wonderful messiness.
Hospitality doesn’t just happen in your house either. A year ago I didn’t have a space I could invite people into. It just wasn’t big enough honestly. So maybe hospitality means texting everyone you know and going on a hike or grabbing some friends for a coffee or a meal. The location or activity doesn’t matter nearly as much as your attitude. If you desire to create a space where community can prosper and where people feel safe then, bam! You got it. You’re being hospitable.
So, say you read this and are like, “YES! I want that! But what’s my next step?” I got you covered!
First and most importantly, pray. Ask God to work in your life and the people around you to create moments where you can practice hospitality.
Open yourself up to be inconvenienced. Having people over once a week isn’t always easy. I can’t just not go to small group one week. Sometimes I’m not feeling the whole, “community,” thing. But God is good always and He is good to work despite our moods.
Be willing to sacrifice your own desires. Mathew 5 includes a passage commonly known as The Beatitudes. This section has come up in my life a lot recently and verse 5 comes to mind here. It reads, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” The college pastor at my church defined this as, “the self controlled desire to put other people before yourself.” Ouch. That’s not easy. Sometimes hospitality looks like doing what someone else wants or sacrificing your comfort for another.
Look for the blessings. I fully believe hospitality leads to community and from community there’s immense joy. God designed us to live in community with one another and so many blessings spring from that design! While there are challenges to both community and hospitality I fully believe that they are more than worth it. The joy I get from my small group or spending time with the wonderful people in my life far outweighs whatever momentary sacrifice it may or may not have required.
I know this topic can be tricky. If you’re new to an area or struggling to build community in your life, please leave a comment down below or shoot me an email. I’m so passionate about this and I’d love to pray for you and walk through this time with you!
P.S. Hospitality doesn’t always include cookies… But it sure is fun when it does right?!