How to Have a Heart for Hospitality
How to Have a Heart for Hospitality
We think hospitality is for the people who:
are extroverts who love being around people all the time
are neat-freaks with perfectly clean homes
are great chefs who can serve delicious food
have big homes that can accommodate large groups of people
have sufficient income to fund elaborate parties
News flash: we are all called to practice hospitality.
We don’t have to be especially gifted, though some are more naturally talented in ways that lend themselves to hospitality.
And the good news is that we can work on becoming more hospitable!
And it starts with our hearts.
PUTTING PEOPLE FIRST
Hospitality mostly means being willing to put others first.
Whether you have a large home with guest rooms abounding and an ability to whip up a delicious meal from the contents of a nearly-empty fridge or not, you can be hospitable.
You can make room for people in your life and your home.
It means having a posture of service, remembering to consider the needs of others and do what you can to meet them.
It’s like the story of the little drummer boy, playing his drum because it’s all he had to offer. Or the poor woman who gave her last two coins. Or the people you know who invite people over in the midst of a home renovation project because they need a place to meet or stay.
It’s letting go of our pride, bringing what we have to the table, and finding a way to contribute with whatever we have, whether it seems like a lot or a little.
Every small act of service and kindness counts.
BEING WILLING TO LET GO OF PERFECTION
It doesn’t have to be perfect.
Let me repeat: it doesn’t have to be perfect.
(I love what Myquillyn Smith says, “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.” She even has a hashtag for it on Instagram! It’s also the premise of her book The Nesting Place, which is one of my favorite home decorating and styling books of all time!)
Many of us fall into the trap of thinking we have to have these perfect gatherings, that our homes have to be spotless and our menus decadent and impressive.
But if we’re focusing on connection instead of impression, we don’t have to worry about all those little details! It frees us up to focus on what really matters instead.
It reminds me of the story of Mary and Martha in the book of Luke.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” - Luke 10:41-42
Martha got distracted by all the tasks that needed to be done in order to make everything just right, in order to impress her guests. Mary, on the other hand, was focused on spending time with the guests, and Jesus confirms that she was focused on the better thing. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to serve others or prepare a nice meal or party, but when we let it keep us from sitting down with our people, we’ve let our priorities become out of order.
If we’re prioritizing our people, we’ll do our best to provide a place for them to stay and food to fill their bellies, but we’ll invest even more in spending time with them. That’s what they really come for, anyway!
The bonus benefit is that letting go of perfection lessens the burden upon the hosts, freeing the weight of having to get everything just right, allowing us to relax and actually enjoy ourselves and the company of our people!
So as you’re planning your own get-togethers or considering what you can contribute to the ones others in your circles are hosting, don’t worry about making it perfect. Just focus on the heart behind the hospitality— the people!
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