Showing Hospitality: A Gift and a Command

My pastors (yes, including my hubby) have been encouraging us as members to think about “home life small groups”. They’ve taught and demonstrated what that can look like. So, I’ve been thinking about hospitality lately. One could argue that it’s a spiritual gift (1 Peter 4:8-10, Rom 12). But I also believe it’s expected for all believers to be hospitable (Rom 12:13, Heb 13:2). Paul’s letters to Titus and Timothy indicate a special encouragement to women to practice hospitality.
But … well, ugh!! I love spending time with people, but I don’t love entertaining them. I’m not good at it. My friend Jana gave me a greater understanding of what hospitality is when she invited our family (all six of us) to move in with them for four months when our house was being rebuilt after our fire. I learned that opening your home and your life doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be Martha Stewart. (Not that she isn’t. :)) What it means is that you demonstrate a genuine desire for people to feel at home in your home.

I love going to someone’s home where the lady of the house is a wonderful hostess. There’s an orderly plan, beautiful decor, delicious food and lots of fun … all from a genuine heart of service. Everyone feels so special. What a blessing that is!!
But it’s not me. I’m more of a “come-on-in-and-heres-a-plate-so-serve yourself” kind of gal. So when I read this article recently, I was glad someone helped out those of us who don’t feel like we entertain well. And although I believe that practicing hospitality in our homes can happen apart from being the ideal hostess, showing hospitality can be done in many other ways …

9 Ways to Show Hospitality {When Hospitality is Hard}

Perhaps it throws you way out of your comfort zone to open up your house and share family life with others. It could even be a source of contention between the two of you as you try to figure out how to be part of the body of Christ without having an anxiety attack. When hospitality is a challenge, it’s tempting to either get annoyed with whatever (or whoever) is standing in the way, or just give up the notion all together. If we can’t serve in the typical have-a-family-over-for-dinner way, we don’t reach out at all. We may even become embarrassed or bitter because real life doesn’t fit the vision of hospitality that’s dancing in our head.

Because of this, I’ve allowed myself to sit on the hospitality-sidelines for far too long. I’ve made excuses and ignored the God-given desire to reach out to others. To be honest, I’ve been living in denial and rebellion in this area. But a couple of weeks ago, I had a lightbulb moment. I suddenly realized that I can show love and hospitality even if my entire family isn’t involved. I can minister to the needs of others, without the help of sign-up sheets and organized planning. I can step into someone else’s shoes and go looking for ways to serve (9 Ways to Show Hospitality).

Give cookies or baked goods. The next time you’re doing some baking, double the recipe and give away the extras. A plate of cookies will encourage just about anyone, and my recipe for Banana Bread {using frozen bananas} makes a pretty little gift when wrapped with a piece of parchment paper and tied with some simple twine.

Drop off a treat only a mother would love. You probably know that motherhood can be pretty lonely sometimes. Help a young mommy feel especially cared for by bringing her a fancy coffee drink mid-morning or a special salad for lunch. You could also throw in a little something yummy to keep chubby hands from begging for the mommy-only treat.

Deliver muffins for breakfast. Just imagine how nice it would be to start the day without having to fix breakfast for all those little birdies begging to be fed. The night before, drop off some Strawberry Chia Muffins if it’s summer, Pumpkin Muffins in the fall, or these Blueberry Crumb Muffins anytime!

Take dinner. There’s no reason to wait for someone to have a baby or to be in the hospital in order to serve them a meal they don’t have to cook for themselves. One of my favorite meals to take is Baked Rigatoni and a loaf of Homemade French Bread. They can heat it in the oven when they’re ready for dinner, and there might even be enough for leftovers another day in the week.

Offer to babysit. Give a mom the time to get her hair cut, go to the grocery store, or take her husband out to lunch. Don’t wait for her to ask for babysitting help. Offer even when there isn’t a specific need, just because it will be a blessing.

Take the kids on an outing. The next time you’re heading to the park or the library, take a couple extra kids along. An hour of kid-free time to work or relax can be a breath of fresh air to a mommy who is having one of those days.

Make busy bags. There are also ways you can keep your friend’s kids entertained without the time investment of babysitting. Drop off some busy bags or pick up a box of crayons and a coloring book. It’s amazing how long a little one can be entertained (and a mom can be given some free time) with a new activity or some art supplies.

Talk to (and listen to) a widow. Give your ear to someone who needs conversation and fellowship. After my dad passed away, I realized how very quiet the house was for my mom as a widow. Be on the lookout for neighbors or women at church who simply want to chat. You might gain some needed encouragement and wisdom yourself, too!

Pray. Probably the kindest act you can do for a young woman, overwhelmed mom, or lonely widow is to pray for her. Put yourself in her shoes and pray over the issues she may be facing. Then, go the extra mile and send her a card or email so she knows someone cared enough to take her needs before the throne of grace.
(Adapted from an article by Amy Clark Scheren)

Let love be genuine. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

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