The Bible is clear that we are to pursue hospitality (Rom 12:13). I am going to assume for the purpose of this post that you are at least open to the idea of hospitality, but that your challenge is that the task seems overwhelming. Here are 5 ways to practice hospitality in your busy life.
#1. Be balanced with respect to the cleanliness of your home
One of the major hospitality killers is the preparation work. Just to be frank, if you must spend 4 hours getting ready to have someone over, then you will not have people over very often. It will not seem worth it. Please remember that it is possible to err on both sides of this equation. On the one hand, it is not wise for your home to be a dump when you have guests. On the other hand, your identity is not wrapped up in the cleanliness of your home. The goal is to be hospitable, not for people to be impressed with you or the things God has given you.
This implies that you (as a couple) must develop a reasonable standard regarding how clean and neat your home must be for guests. I can speak about this from experience. This used to be a source of contention in my home. My wife and I had very different ideas and neither one of us was very balanced. End result: we had people over to our home once or twice a year. Today, we host lots of people in our home – monthly if not more frequently. But we had to come to some balance before it was going to be worth it.
We are not saying that our balance is the standard, but maybe it will be help to some:
- The main traffic areas need to be picked up and the vacuum needs to be run.
- Dusting, wiping the base boards, and cleaning windows is entirely optional and not likely to be done.
- The bathrooms that will be used by our guests need to be cleaned, but bathrooms that will not be used by our guests do not have to be cleaned.
- Areas in our home that will not be used during our hospitality event can be used for storage :). This includes, but is not limited to, closets, the garage, and upstairs bedrooms.
These simple rules have helped each of us know what to do and how much time it will actually take to get ready. In our case, this work takes about 1 hour if we are having a small group over, and no more than 2 hours even if we were going to have 40 people in our home. A reasonable balance is an important part of having people into your home.
#2. Begin with something that you were planning to do already
If you were planning to watch a football game, a basketball game, a movie, or an Olympic event, do that with a few of your friends. In this case, you can exercise hospitality without worrying about whether your guests are entertained. Even if you don’t know what to talk about, the game will provide a few opportunities. It takes the pressure off you, you were planning to do this anyway, and in the end it will be a step toward greater hospitality.
#3. Consider a dessert event with games
I mentioned earlier that preparations for the home should not take more than an hour or so, but anyone who has hosted people for dinner knows that dinner preparations are an entirely different story. Here are three reasons why I think starting with dinner is a recipe for “no more hospitality:”
- Dinner can get very expensive. If you spend a lot of money, you are not likely to practice hospitality regularly.
- Dinner can be very time-consuming. Most people tend to make a “nicer than normal” meal when having others over. This means preparation.
- Dinner can be very pressure-filled. There is pressure as everyone is sitting around a table … What do I talk about? What if I say something they don’t like? There is also pressure in getting the food delivered to the table hot and ready.
My point…start with dessert. You can go to the store and buy a big tub of ice cream and a box of brownies for less than $8. You can ask others to bring their favorite dessert. You can declare the evening “gluttony free,” and you can enjoy having junk food while you play a board or card game with your friends.
#4. Remember that hospitality teaches your children–so involve them
One of the other hospitality killers is the concept of “family time.” There is a sense, in the minds of some, that hospitality means that my family will suffer. In reality, hospitality is one of the best things you could do for your family. Having your children help clean, help prepare, and interact with others are all crucial biblical skills. It will develop in your children a focus and concern for others rather than a selfish attitude that we are all so prone to exhibit.
In addition, we have found that our kids love it. We have a game night for young couples in our church about four times a year. Our kids (13, 8, and 4) love “Young Couples” game night. They like to play the games and they like to hang out with the “Young Couples” – and they really love the awesome spread of junk food, pop, and candy that is inevitably in our kitchen! Game night is not a night when our kids suffer. It is a night when our kids serve and are served.
Remember, hospitality is good for your family.
#5. Remind yourself that we live in a world with lots of acquaintances, but very few friends
Hospitality takes some work – even simple hospitality takes some work. But it is also helpful to remember that many people in our churches have never been invited to someone’s home before. They have lots of acquaintances, but they have very few friends. You never know how one little act of kindness could brighten someone’s day and life. Your willingness to be hospitable could be one of the things the Lord uses to help others grow. Think back to the times when someone cared enough to invite you over.
Much more could be said about hospitality tips, but I chose these 5 to demonstrate that hospitality is both a heart issue and a hands issue. When we remember the Lord’s commands, we should be motivated to be hospitable. At the same time, these tips should help make it as easy as possible.
So, what are you waiting for?