Hospitality – A Humble Primer Part 2

pot with quote

Friends – today we continue with the Hospitality series by Robynn. If you missed the first part click here. We would love to hear from you in the comments. What would you add? 

  • Many of us learnt hospitality from the gracious reception we were given as expatriates living in a “foreign” land. Pakistani’s are pretty much the definition of hospitality…In what other country do you meet someone on the street, have a small gupshup (visit) with them and then get invited back to their house for food- which is of course always the best they have to offer and never what they have for themselves. (They demonstrate generous) selfless giving (FB: Emma)!
  • When you’re hosting a regular event—a meeting that meets each week, a Bible Study, a “Life Group” –don’t feel the need to always serve something to eat. In fact don’t make anything the first time. The first time people show up they are looking for patterns. If you serve a sweet treat that first time they expect it each time.  Make one the second time and they’ll be surprised and pleased. After that you can randomly make something if and when you have the inclination or the time.
  • Be honest. If you’ve had a rough day…don’t try to fake it. People see through it anyway…and honesty and transparency pave the way for others to admit they’ve had a rough day too. Vulnerability attracts people. It gives permission for others to be their true selves.
  • Intimidation muddies your anticipation with anxiety. Remember the people who are coming are regular people! They brush their teeth and spit in their sinks too. They shout at their children. They probably snore or grind their teeth. I hate to be the one to break it down for you but intimidation is really pride at its root. Humbly welcome others into your heart and into your home.
  • If you’ve already welcomed pets into your home be sure to be considerate of non-pet loving people. Do your friends have allergies? Did they grow up in cultures where domestic beasts like dogs and cats and hamsters and rats were considered unclean? Do they have secret residual childhood fears? Lock the critters in their kennels or in a basement bedroom.
  • If you’re having friends over for a meal keep it simple. Make a one pot something: soup or stew are perfect choices. A side of bread and it’s a meal! One pot meals are easy to make. They are easy to dish up. They make your guests feel relaxed and nourished. There’s a feeling of home surrounding a savoury bowl of soup. Just share what you have & enjoy each other (FB: Mae). Hospitality is more about fellowship than feasting. Bread and cheese (and chutney) can make a lovely lunch (FB: Alison). Just welcome people into your everyday life. Don’t put on a show on any front, including the food front. Be yourself. Give your guests space for themselves (FB: Angus).
  • I love what my cousin Lauralea wrote on Facebook: If you’re a nervous beginner, start by inviting those with a known gift of hospitality; not only do these gracious people have the ability to make you feel comfortable and at ease in their home, but they’ll bring it to your home as well, so that your first forays into the uncharted waters of offering hospitality will be grace-filled affairs and build your confidence and joy. Start simply. Tea and cake, soup and crackers- and it doesn’t have to be gourmet or home baked; it’s not a competition. It’s about sharing Jesus with each other. When you can relax into it, those who come to share Jesus with you will be able to relax and will meet Jesus in your home (FB: Lauralea).
  • The Arabs have it right. The guest brings light to the house. Guests are treated with honor because the fact that they want to visit you is high praise in itself (FB: Tim).
  • Hospitality can be a gift of service not necessarily offered in one’s home. It can be welcoming a new person at church (or) preparing coffee for an event (behind the scenes) to set a comfortable atmosphere (FB: Cynthia).
  • If possible, when preparing for a dinner or party, do all or most of the work ahead of time; this allows you to leave the kitchen and be involved and enjoy your visitors (FB: Anita). However, if you’re running behind, set the table so that when the guests arrive, they know they were expected and that there is the promise of food to come (FB: Mary).
  • Turn up the heat or turn down the AC depending on the time of year. When your guest are freezing or sweating, they don’t want to hang around. Turn the thermostat back to what you are used to after they leave (FB: Anita).
  • Be mindful of guests from different cultural backgrounds. Offer Pakistani and Indian guests something three or four times. Their culture demands they refuse the first several times. They don’t want to be rude. They don’t want to trouble you. Persistence in asking is important for the conscientious host. There are several cultures where leave taking is a kin to a tv mini series! It’s dramatic and stretched out, involving asking permission to take their leave and a long belabored goodbye at the door. Apparently in Ghana the host walks the guest half way back to their home before saying goodbye. South Asians walk each other out to the gate.
  • There are sweet nugget verses in the Bible that speak to hospitality. My favourite is 1 Peter 4:9, “Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.” Or Romans 12:3 “When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice” Or Hebrews 13:2, “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” Notice the happy adverbs, ‘cheerfully’, eagerly! You never know who might show up!
  • A friend, that interestingly we met through hospitality, posted this excellent article! Laura was in and out of our home in India. She saw our messes—physical and emotional. Read this and see what you think:
  • When you do the work of preparing to host expected guests: making the beds, cleaning the toilets, dusting the shelves, pray for those that are on their way. Pray for their journey. Pray for their time in your home. Pray for their deep blessing. Pray for the energy to serve and the affection to love well. Ask God to use your whole family to be a source of blessing and healing and joy to your guests. Pray also for yourself and your family. If you’re tired, if you lack the vigor, if your household is out of sorts—ask for grace, ask for The Ever Present Helper to show up, to offer His own hospitality to those who are on their way, and to those who already live in your home. Not all situations turn out the way you want, but it’s always an opportunity for God to stretch us and teach us something about ourselves or about Him. (FB quote: Leslie; FB inspired: Leslie and Shannon). And then later if it’s appropriate, pray again, together with your guests before they leave. From our own experience, taking time to pray with guests before they leave is the most meaningful part of the evening for us. When we forget, it’s the first thing I regret (FB: Mary).
  • I was reminded by my friend Nancy of Henri Nouwen’s book Reaching Out includes an entire section entitled From Hostility to Hospitality. I highly commend it to you as another resource to transform the heart in the area of hospitality.
  • In response to my post entitled, Hospitality–A recovered gift, a reader’s friend offered to send me her book, Table Life-Savoring the Hospitality of Jesus in your Home. While I haven’t yet read it I do offer it to you as another resource.

The world gets more and more complicated it seems. Time is zipping past at faster and faster speeds. We need friendships of depth. We need community to sustain us all. Hospitality creates a place for that. Try it. Take a risk. Invite a friend over for coffee. Invite someone over for a simple meal. You’ll be glad you did!

I want to close with a true to life story of dear friends AJ and Alex, who moved a year or two ago from our vibrant community here in Manhattan (Kansas) to a more small town/rural area in also Kansas. The people didn’t necessarily rush out to welcome them. Hospitality wasn’t proffered. Here’s what AJ wrote: We have been faced with re-defining (hospitality) since moving to a place where it’s not practiced or sought after. When we moved here, you never would have known, except for the small town gossip train chuggin’ by. We have just recently started to be more “hospitable” thinking that if they don’t offer it to us, then we’ll offer it to them.

Hospitality is a state-of-mind, a practice of transparency in living and an act of constant availability. It doesn’t have to be someone sleeping on your couch (although it could be), it can be a great conversation on the street that leaves someone feeling reassured about life and welcomed by humanity.

Hospitality is complex because people are complex. It’s never the same from moment to moment and I think the ever -changing atmosphere is an incredible challenge given to us by our Great, Kind, WELCOMING and Loving God.

Reader’s we love that you have engaged with these pieces on hospitality – what stories, advice, or thoughts can you share? 

Picture Credit: word art by Marilyn R. Gardner

3 thoughts on “Hospitality – A Humble Primer Part 2

  1. I appreciate releasing the pressure to serve food. I am not someone who likes to cook. I love to eat (other people’s food) but a big obstacle to being a part of regular small groups, for me, is the expectation that we are all always going to cook something and bring it to share. Why food? It’s the people I want to be with. I can eat at home. But I don’t like the extra work to make something that is pot-luck worthy, and then transport it. I appreciate Jennie Allen when she says she loves to ” gather deep kindred souls around food I didn’t cook.” (!)

    At the same time, I LOVED the recommendation in part 1 to have a hot drinks center when you host people. Drinks are so important, more so than food. We always need something to drink, and drinking together is so bonding. So, not always food, but always drinks. That’s my kind of hospitality! Ha! Thanks Robynn!


  2. Robynn, I’m a hospitable soul. Sadly, my husband is not (except towards a few close friends). I’ve had to make the best of this over the years.

    After thinking long and hard for a number of years, I have come to a solution. (Not the only one–I would love to hear about others!) Now, I often invite people out to coffee shops at a convenient place _for them_. And since my schedule is somewhat flexible, I can usually fit into their schedule. Plus, either of us can leave fairly easily, or stay, if that’s what we choose to do. I am trying my best to be hospitable to others, even at a coffee shop.

    Thanks for sharing the great ideas! @chaplaineliza


  3. Lovely posts, Robynn, and so meaningful!! What a rich soup-pot of images, feelings, challenges and inspirations you’ve presented by musing on “Hospitality.” Thanks!


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