The Lost Art of Hospitality
At the young age of 19, I married my best friend and went straight into full time ministry. I had absolutely no idea what it meant to host someone in my home; I barely had my home established. We were blessed to live in West Texas for the first 5 years of our marriage and boy, do those southern girls know what they are doing. From the amazing, fully homemade, four course meals, to their immaculately kept homes, you were in for a real treat. There was no denying that when you went to their house for dinner, you were leaving full and happy with a goody bag to enjoy the next day. The South taught me a lot about hospitality- that its not about showing off your perfection but about showing people they are worth the effort. God is never into perfection, but I do believe that He has called us to feed people; both physically and spiritually.
Being a pastor's wife, I often have people flow in and out of my home. And I want to be able to discern how to love them and care for them in the season they are in. I am not a good cook (by nature)- my family can attest to that. It is something that I have had to really focus on getting better at and learning through a lot of bad dinners. That being said, I am a great housekeeper. I LOVE to clean and make my house feel like a home. I love candles and warm scents, I love dim lighting and soft music. Which is where my hospitality gift kicks in. I pray that God would fill my house with His peace. I know that seems cliché, but I really mean that I want His peace so tangible, that it hits their spirit like a wall when they cross my threshold. I had a friend tell me once while snuggled up on my couch, "Your house always makes me feel at rest. I just want to come nap here." To me that was a huge compliment because that is the desire that I have for my home. That it would be a place of rest.
We live in a social media driven world and yet when we sit face to face, we sometimes have a hard time being 'social.' Things can just get plain awkward. We forget how to look someone in the eye and ask them what God is doing in their life or how we can help them get through the storm they are in. We forget what it means to really take a moment and ask someone how they are doing; to pause and not be content with just 'fine.' However- we can throw every thought we think, good or bad, on Facebook for the world to see and have no problem talking too much when really, we should be keeping our mouth shut. I think we are getting it backwards. I love social media and think it is a great tool of connection but there is just something that can't be explained about sitting in a comfy living room, eye to eye, enjoying a cup of coffee and really talking. Not over text or messenger but face to face. Nothing can get lost in interpretation. Offense is less likely to happen. Sitting face to face helps confirm people's value too. To themselves. Messenger isn't personal. Giving up your time and home is. It places value on them and says they are worth it. I could tell you countless stories of students and adults who come over for a meal, sit at our table and eat in complete joy while later explaining that their family is in complete turmoil and what a joy this was to be 'normal.'
Ministry is all about being available to the people around us. Even when it's not convenient and our house is messy. Too many Christians never get their hands dirty and actually reach out and enter the pain of humanity. Open your heart and ask God to enlarge your capacity to 'house' the ones He has given you to embrace. More than ever, I believe that the world needs to see Godly women who know how to shape their homes around the love of God while facing the same situations that they are. We are everyday, ordinary women who allow the Almighty One to come and bring heaven to our homes and neighborhoods.
In a remarkable moment, God became fully human and moved into the neighborhood of our lives.
John 1:14 (MSG).
And while we are on this topic: Don't forget to show your hospitality to the women serving with you. If you are a Senior Pastor, please do not neglect to pour into your staff women and staff wives. I know you think that everything is OK but I am telling you that they need your connection and leadership. Be available to them, pour into them, lead them. Their attitudes are a direct reflection of the leadership they are presented. Feel like all your ministries are going in separate directions? Maybe its time to meet with them and get everyone on the same page using the same verbage. Same Heart. They are giving their lives to your ministry and vision. THEY WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! Get creative, send out a weekly text, have quarterly brunch events, have your own connect group, mail a card, the options are endless. Actually show you care about them and not only what they do for you. Be intentional about it. I even know of a church that went as far to allow the staff wives to log in from home and watch live any staff meeting so they would be in 'the know' and feel like a part of the team. Strong relationships do not just happen because you work together. Do not neglect their growth. If you are a staff wife, do not neglect the volunteer women serving on your teams. Same principle. Pour into them like you want someone to pour into you.
You earn the right to speak into people's lives. It really is true that people don't want to know how much you know till they know how much you care. Godly women should be the most welcoming, loving women on the planet. It's time to roll up your sleeves and gets your hands dirty loving people. Open up your home, your time, your love for the people in your world. I promise, Jesus will be beaming with pride.
"Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come see you?" Then the King will say, "I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me- you did it to me."
Matthew 25:40 (MSG)