I am not a natural hostess. Back when I took my first Spiritual Gifts quiz, my “hospitality” score was nil. It just never seemed like something I’d ever enjoy or be particularly gifted in. When I saw so many other women’s beautiful hospitality skills, I’ll admit to being a little bit jealous–I wanted to be that way too. But the truth is that whenever my husband would suggest guests for dinner I’d have a little bit of a mental breakdown. Never mind ever suggesting we host an overnight guest. I got really good at finding excuses and I begged my husband to stop inviting people over. If we did have guests I’m sure they sensed my unease as I fussed over perfect place settings and just-right background music.
A few years ago, I felt the Lord gently prodding me in this area. It was an issue of pride on my part–an unwillingness to allow people into my world to see the real, sometimes messy me. I wanted to offer a mirage of perfection rather than genuine hospitality. But that changed one day when my husband came home from an unexpected overnight stay in the jungle due to bad weather. He had been warmly welcomed into the home of an elderly missionary couple living there. He was given a humble but comfy bed and a breakfast of pancakes and hotdogs (no sausage in the fridge that day). He couldn’t stop gushing about this loving pair and how good they were at making him feel welcome in their home. They ministered to him with their generous and genuine love, and it suddenly occurred to me that true, Biblical hospitality looks far different than the glossy photos I’d seen in magazines.
God’s kind of hospitality frees us up to love His people rather than fuss over stuff that doesn’t really matter–like place settings and background music. I prayed for God to change my heart to be more open to opening the doors of my home, and He has. He has placed me in a unique place where guests are coming and going regularly, and I continue to learn to be a gracious hostess; not a perfect one, with five-course meals on the menu and mints on the pillows, but a genuine one with a warm smile and a willingness to share whatever I have … even if it’s leftovers and a slightly lumpy bed for the night!