Hospitality Isn’t An Option, It’s A Command: 5 Ways to Practice Hospitality

When we first moved into our little Hawaii house, we had nothing. Our house sat empty for months as the military shipment of our furniture from Michigan to Oahu drug on and on. We ate our meals at a card table, slept on an air mattress, and sat on an uncomfortable little loveseat we’d managed to snag.

Even in this state of emptiness, our home quickly became filled with Marines.

I struggled to open up my home. I wanted things to be perfect. I wanted to set the table in a Pinterest-worth manner and have everything planned out perfectly. But I am so grateful that God and Hubby thwarted these plans.

God commands us to be hospitable. One of my favorite examples of this is the widow who shared what she thought was her last meal with Elijah. She had nothing but a little oil and flour to make into one last piece of bread. After this, she was going to starve.

But she shared it.

Hospitality is a not an option in the Christian walk. It is not something we get to do when we feel like it, when our cupboards are full, or when our house is ready for HGTV to film, it is something that is continual no matter the circumstance.

Hospitality does not have to be elaborate. It can look like a simple cup of tea or stretching the soup a little thinner to accommodate more people. It’s opening our homes and hearts to pour out love and walk alongside life with fellow sojourners of the faith.

When life is hard, that’s when we need people around us. We need to let believers into the not so lovely parts of our homes. We need to let them join us for the unremarkable dinners we serve our families.

There is a tendency in me to hype hospitality up to look like something entirely different. Something a lot like entertaining. Entertaining makes me feel proud as I show off my accomplishments. Hospitality humbly opens the door and invites others into my life, warts and all. Entertaining is about me, hospitality is about showing them the love of God.

So open your door, offer whatever you have to share.

Here are a few of my favorite, simple ideas to share with another.

 1. Pour a Cup of Tea  

Offer them something warm to drink and sit and be with them. It’s hard to find friends who will just sit and be. Listen to what they have to say, and focus on each other, not caramelizing the tops of creme brule.

2. Serve Something Pre-Made

Seriously. Don’t be ashamed to offer leftovers. I’m always relieved when a friend does this. It breaks down walls and makes me feel like family because, I’ll let you in on a little secret, I serve my family leftovers.

3. Have a Watermelon Party

I definitely cannot take credit for this idea but I also cannot remember where I heard it. Nevertheless, it is a splendid idea that is especially perfect for those of you with little ones. Invite your friends over and sit in the yard with a cold watermelon. It’s simple, but joyous.

4. Host a Game Night

I shared recently in an email with my subscribers that Bananagrams has been my favorite lately. Recently, another friend taught me to play cribbage. Whatever your game is, break it out and enjoy some fun with those around you.

5. Don’t Do It All Alone

Potlucks are always fun. Splitting up meals and asking a friend to bring the salad, bread, or dessert, totally an option. Don’t fall into the entertaining trap. Let others be included in the process.

Hubby and I are back where we began. We emptied our home and loaded up our earthly possessions, our pictures, the physical reminders of our memories and first home, into storage. The house sits empty.

But the door is still open.

And last night, one of those ohana friends sat and reminisced with me about when we met in my family room, back when the house was empty and the door was open.

I never thought those friendships would blossom. But they did.

Pouring out my heart in hospitality has been a burden at times. People show up when I want to relax. But Love opens the door again and again. God has never stopped welcoming me to His table and so the door to my kitchen remains open.

George Herbert wrote a beautiful poem on Love showing hospitality to us, lowly men. God has welcomed us to His table. He has offered us His very Body and Blood as sustenance. That is the model of hospitality set before us – giving our very selves for another.

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Leave a Reply

  1. Julie says

    I truly love this and needed to read this… I find myself so unwilling to open my home because it is never perfect. I forget that people,especially friends, don’t expect perfect and that my desire for perfection is prideful…time for me to open up and get over myself. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Elizabeth says

    I love your post, I never knew there was a difference between hospitality and entertainment. Thanks for teaching me. sometimes we are so stuck up on ourselves that we forget what God asked us to do. I will learn to open up my home more. Can’t say I am good at that.

    • Bailey says

      Elizabeth, There is definitely a difference. I hope that God can use your home and hospitality in mighty ways.

    • Bailey says

      Like my mom says, “If you’re wanting to see me, stop by whenever! If you want to see my house, make an appointment.”

      Most people are just looking to see other and to be seen themselves.

  3. Liz says

    These are all great tips. I love having people over and I agree 100%, everything doesn’t have to be Pinterest perfect!

  4. Mica says

    Beautiful post! I have so many fun memories of when my parents would welcome people over growing up – I’m sure there were times when the house was empty and it was just us, but mostly I remember playing and eating and laughing with everyone who stopped by. The kind of home I want to have! 🙂 (lack of space is the only reason we don’t have people over often at the moment!)

    • Bailey says

      That’s such a wonderful precedent to set and a wonderful heritage to leave to the next generation. I’m sure they impacted more people than they will ever realize.

  5. Michelle C says

    This was a truly amazing article. I listened to a podcast this morning that discussed the lack of human interaction and how it’s physically affecting us. It made me so sad. With work, family, a blog, and school, it’s so hard to just sit down and talk with anyone any more. I need to make more of an effort.

    • Bailey says

      It’s so sad. We need to all make more of an effort to open our homes and restore meaningful relationships.

  6. Neva says

    Love the distinction between entertaining and hospitality. Also agree that it’s nice when you go to someone’s house and you don’t get the idea they’re trying to impress you, they just want to invest in time and talking with you!

    • Bailey says

      Thank you, Neva! It’s an important distinction to make. I hope that we can all do a better job of opening up our homes in true hospitality.

  7. Lori at Encourage Your Spouse says

    Thank you so much for your post – it’s so encouraging. We are currently in our RV full-time (it’s a life-long dream), but it means that we no longer have the space to do hospitality (eg: 282 sq feet – 4 plates, 4 forks – real-life minimalism) in the way we’ve done it all the years of our marriage. So, we’ve used our adult children’s homes to get together with others, and hosted at church gatherings, but I’ve been feeling the loss… I need to look at our opportunities again with fresh eyes. Thank you, again, for the encouragement!

    • Bailey says

      Talk about minimalism! It’s can be tricky at times (I type as I sit on an air mattress as all of our household goods are in transit) but it is so worth it.

  8. Sharon says

    Great post! It’s so true. But sometimes so hard. When I’m going through a rough time, I usually want to close up and stay home. Simple acts of opening up and being hospitable takes my eyes off of me for a while.

    • Bailey says

      I hear you. My default is to close up but it’s so important to live with our arms open and our eyes fixed on Jesus.

  9. Morgan Bartel says

    We love the fellowship that comes along with game night. Every few weeks our humble little house is filled with family and friends playing different games, laughing and enjoying one another. This is a fantastic post. Thank you for sharing. I will be doing the watermelon party for sure!

    • Bailey says

      Aren’t game nights the best? Do you guys have a favorite go-to for game night? We’ve been loving Bananagrams lately.

  10. Juli says

    I love this! Brings me back to our first home (a dilapidated walk-up during college) when we used to throw open the doors and have people over to watch movies and eat $1 bags of chips. Literally. It was a wonderful time!

    My biggest hangup about guests is mess – we try to live minimally, but a day with two toddlers and a teen leaves my house a tornado no matter how few possessions we have! I don’t mind if I have “no food” in the house, or “no entertainment” planned, but the Legos! Ugh! Will have to get over it, you’ve inspired me.

    • Bailey says

      I’m so glad you’ve been inspired as your $1 bag of chips hospitality inspired me. It’s certainly harder with little ones and the whirlwind they create but no matter our stage of life, I hope we can all find ways to practice hospitality.