The Art of Hospitality
As believers, we’ve all been given spiritual gifts. Some have the gift of teaching, others the gift of faith, and the list goes on. My main gifting is hospitality, and while it’s something that usually comes naturally in my personal and professional life alike, I am always learning more about how to use this gift in the most effective ways. While not everyone has the gift of hospitality, it is something that we can all practice in small ways in our everyday lives.
When we hear the word “hospitality,” we probably just think about having people over to our home and feeding them a meal. But it goes so far beyond this idea! To be hospitable means to make people feel known, wanted, and included. Hospitality is the way we treat people. It means creating a safe and comfortable setting where relationships can develop. It means setting people at ease in unfamiliar surroundings. Hospitality isn’t limited to one place, but can actually be practiced in your everyday life wherever you go.
Since hospitality is a natural rhythm in my specific role as an administrative assistant at work, I’d love to share with you some more personal ways to practice hospitality at home and in your relationships.
Think through what makes you feel comfortable and “at home” when you visit someone’s home for an overnight stay…
Is it lamps in the bedroom?
Is it having an empty drawer to unpack your things in?
Is it extra toiletries and fresh towels laid out for you to use?
Is it your favorite snacks in the kitchen?
Is it being shown how to use the TV remotes?
Is it getting a tour of the house and knowing where basic things are?
Is it having an extra blanket in the bedroom in case it gets cold?
Is it the WIFI password being written out for you in advance?
Is it having fresh coffee available to you in the morning?
Is it simply your host telling you to “make yourself at home”?
It could be any of these things and more! I challenge you to pinpoint a few of these in your own life that you appreciate the most when you visit someone. If you haven’t already, implement them into your own home environment when people come to visit you. This doesn’t just apply to overnight stays; implement some of these ideas when you are hosting people for a game night, hosting a baby shower, or having friends over for dinner.
Practicing hospitality in your friendships is a really great way to show your friends that you care about them. Here are some tips and tricks to do that well.
It’s not cheating to put people’s birthdays, anniversaries, and other important dates in your calendar with a reminder. It’s actually a really simple way to care for the people in your life, and it takes little effort to do so.
In the same vein, make the effort to actually reach out on those special days. Don’t just write a message on their Facebook wall…call them. Check in on them. See how they’re doing. Let them know what they mean to you. Social media culture continues to disconnect and break down the face-to-face relationships we have with people, so make the effort to actually connect with people. Write a letter and mail it. Schedule a lunch date. Just be present with people. It’s an easy way to make the people in your life feel connected and cared for.
Your presence and attention is a gift to your friends and family members. Give them priority over whoever is texting or calling you (unless it’s an emergency). Put your phone on silent and remove any other distractions when you’re having a conversation with someone. This is a conscious way to make the people in your life feel known, wanted, and cared for.
Get to know your neighbors! This is a great way to seek the welfare of the city. Move beyond the typical small talk conversation across the yard and walk over to shake their hand and talk face-to-face. Learn about their family. Invite them over for dinner. There’s no better way to get to know someone than over a home-cooked meal in your own home! Go the extra step and ask if they have any food allergies or dislikes before having them over. Make cookies for the new neighbors who just moved in down the street. Have a block party or a game night. Invite them to church! Play in your front yard with your kids so you can be available to neighbors who are out and about. Have a joint garage sale with the people on your street. Host a Christmas dinner with the people in your apartment complex building. Bake enough Christmas cookies and treats to pack some up and take them to your neighbors. Just take the step to reach out and be available to your neighbors. Allow them to come into your lives and your home so they can see the light of Christ in you.
You’ll notice a lot of these suggestions and ideas are really small and simple, while some take a little more forethought and intentionality. But it is the small “extras” in life that make the difference for people. A little goes a long way. Details matter! The details show that you care for and love people. It takes some thoughtfulness and preparation sometimes, but if you just implement some of these practical ideas and suggestions into your everyday life, you’ll be exercising the gift of hospitality in no time, and the people around you will feel a sense of belonging and ease in your presence.
As we enter into this busy holiday season, it is always easy to default to meeting our own immediate needs and desires or those of our families. But I challenge you to look for ways to be hospitable to those around you this year.