What image comes to mind when you think of hospitality? For many, and this is where Pinterest can be dangerous (not the topic today), it is a perfectly clean and decorated home, a gourmet menu, top-shelf wine and cocktails, and an exquisite table setting. While some of these things can be applied to biblical hospitality in the appropriate situation, it is really portraying a heart to entertain.
I am the type of person to overstress and overthink inviting people over to our house, hospitality can be very overwhelming. Our houses are often messy, chaotic, as well as our own place to seek calm from the hustle and bustle.
Heart of Hospitality
Many people feel pressure to impress others, leaving us prey to perfectionism and polished perception. The pressure to impress people is all about pride. In these instances, having people over is more about us and our possessions than experiencing the joy of spending time with friends and family. You can read more about that here.
Yes, cleaning your house up a bit before people come over is a good thing but it is not the point of hospitality. True hospitality invites people in regardless of whether your house could use some more dusting. Deep roots of God’s love and grace must be planted in our homes and cared for daily in order to cultivate a heart of hospitality.
With Christmas and New Years just around the corner, I wanted to share a little about how you can de-stress and cultivate a heart for hospitality. This can also extend to every other time you are tasked with hosting any type of gathering. True hospitality is really about freely giving ourselves while granting the freedom for others to be themselves in the comfort of your home and know that they belong.
Cultivating a Hospitable Heart
Hospitality does not come naturally for everyone. Inviting people into our home can be daunting. It puts our hearts and lives on display. It is not always easy to give of yourself and your hard earned possessions. Ultimately hospitality is a heart issue.
Hospitality is making room within our own hearts for the others. We are called to break bread with others, share life, make memories and build community in our homes. I want people to enter my home feeling so safe and loved that they forget they are guests and feel right at home. When we open our hearts and our homes, we are practicing biblical hospitality.
KISS (Keep It Simple Silly)
Start simple. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with a lavish party, I love going to weddings personally, but there is a time and a place for that. The whole point of hosting is to make people feel comfortable and enjoy their time at your house. The best kind of parties are the ones that aren’t forced.
I have come to learn that hosting people is not about a fabulous table setting or a picture perfect charcuterie board, it is about practicing servanthood. It is the spirit of hospitality, not the specifics, that matter.
Before people come over, vacuum your floors, clean one bathroom, and wipe down the counters. Then shut the rooms to other areas of the house. Just remember people are coming to your home to see you. They won’t be criticizing how unclean your house is and will sincerely appreciate your efforts.
Make It a Potluck
While I love to cook and host, parties can become quite expensive. Especially if you are like me and tend to go overboard. Collect and file some inexpensive recipes that are sure to be hit. You can break bread without breaking your budget.
People often ask if they could bring something, so take them up on it. Make the main course yourself then ask your guests to fill in the gaps with appetizers, dessert or drinks. Trust me, your guests will be more than happy to contribute. And delegating responsibilities and/or food items will allow you to cultivate a hospitable heart.
Stop Looking at the Clock and Have Fun
The most important tip is to ENJOY YOURSELF! Time flies when you are having fun! If people stay longer than you would like because of good conversation or fun games, stop looking at your watch to hint that they should go. Unless you really need to be up early or have children that are asleep in their beds, then you can politely ask people to head out. I know from experience that the nights that go into the wee hours of the morning making some of the best memories.
Last Christmas we decided to purchase Jackbox Games on our Xbox (not an ad). This is a compilation of games that everyone can play from their cell phone. It seriously made time pass by so quickly. One moment it would be 8 pm and the next it would be after midnight. Yes, I may have struggled a little the next day, but the uncontrollable laughter made up for it. Some of our other favorite games (not an ad) are Code Names, Taboo, and Exploding Kittens.
God has not only given you a roof over your head but the love and grace to invite people in. When you change your focus from you to others, all the unnecessary expectations will be removed. Let people into the imperfect of your life where friends and family can be themselves and create lasting memories.
My hope and prayers are that we begin to understand that hospitality is a very practical way to love on our neighbors. I challenge you to take time to pray that God will take away the excuses that come along with pride, fear, and selfishness. Ask him to cultivate a hospitable heart that is filled with so much of His love. Then step back and wait as God opens your heart and doors to others.