Neil Warren Clark suggests that unmarried people write down a “Must Have” and “Can’t Stand” list for what they are looking for in a future spouse. Most of my children have written these lists and have them “tucked away” (our daughter said she found an exact match for her list.) A group of mature young Christian men were over one night a while back and for fun, all the guys wrote their “Must Have” and “Can’t Stand” lists in my kitchen. (Some of the lists were pretty comical, as these guys were obviously cutting up. One guy wrote “straight teeth” on his “Must Have” list.) On a more serious note, one of the items in one of the boys’ “Must Have” lists was “loves hospitality.” I know his family and I understood the wisdom he had learned from watching his parents offer hospitality over the years.
Michael Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing, looked for a wife who was “given to hospitality”. These men know a secret. Women who are given to hospitality reveal a lot of character traits about themselves. Hospitable women usually have a love for people and ministry whereas emotionally and spiritually immature people are repeatedly not given to hospitality (as they as just trying to keep their own heads above water).
Hospitable women demonstrate a servanthood quality because having people over is work. A woman given to a lifestyle of hospitality is telling us something about herself and it is this: she is a giver. In contrast, women who are lazy, self-focused, or caught up in addictions will not be able to offer hospitality to nearly the same extent as emotionally healthy women. This is not an iron-clad statement, by any means, about people, their subsequent hospitality, and their character. It is only a pattern that I have noticed over the years and this is only my opinion. For certain, though, hospitality does take a certain amount of “having it together” to pull it off regularly.
Now, from the vantage point of Season 2, I realize that hospitality is something that successful and healthy families do. Families are like ponds. Without fresh water, they become stagnant, moldy, and full of disease. Hospitality is a way to keep the fresh life of other people streaming through your home. Let me give you multiple reasons that I think hospitality is so beneficial to you and your family.
With hospitality, your children will be exposed to multiple godly thinkers, not just you. Another reason that hospitality is so valuable is that your children learn and improve their social skills when they are around other mature people. I remember reading how Greg Harris, a guru in the homeschooling movement in the 90’s, said he repeatedly had godly people at his table, influencing his children all the time.
Another benefit of hospitality is that the marriage can get boring without the “new input of other people”. You must have “friends” in the marriage and hang out with others, or boredom can set in.
Having people over is a fabulous way to demonstrate a servant’s heart to your children. Your children will watch and learn as you invite “the least of these” and “the hurting” over and minister to them. There are three types of people in the world: those ahead of you spiritually, those like you, and those behind you. All three types of people are helpful to have over.
Hospitality is an amazing anecdote for loneliness. Also, having people in your home is a wonderful way to get to know people on a deeper level. Meeting others at a restaurant is great, but there is something special about meeting in homes.
Some of you are already good at this naturally. And to those of you who are not, I’m not suggesting you start having large groups of people in your home all the time. I’m only saying that hospitality is an interesting concept God gave the wise woman to bless her! Yes, bless her!
This is not another brick for your already too-full backpack. I know many of you are just trying to get a good night’s sleep and I’m not talking to you. However, this is one of God’s methods to bless your family with interesting people; it is one of God’s ways of having various people in your home with different opinions so you don’t get stuck in a narrow, judgmental mindset; it is, as I said, an opportunity for your children to see servanthood modeled, to learn social skills, and to hear other godly people talk besides you. A lifestyle of hospitality blesses others, but mostly, it blesses you.
Isn’t it interesting that an overseer in 1 Tim 3 must be “hospitable”? Being hospitable says so much about a family. People with dark secrets and recurring sin patterns aren’t given to hospitality. There is a certain transparency in a family if they have regular hospitality. It’s a lost art and we as Christians must bring it back. Our homes are to share. Our lives are to share. This is where the wise woman realizes that God’s ways are always meant to bless her and her family, rather than to give her “one more thing to do”.
I am certainly not the role model in this area. My friends Kendall, Karen, Michelle, and Leslie are, though. Their homes are repeatedly open to others. Actually, I just stand back and gasp as I watch them minister through hospitality. What beauty these women bring to their families and communities.
One more observation and again, this is not Scripture, but only my opinion: For me (and only me) there has been a direct correlation with my hospitality during the years and my walk with the Lord. I know, that sounds crazy, but it’s true. During the times that I was struggling with my walk with the Lord (okay, let’s call it what it was, “a rebellious heart”), those are the times my doors were closed. I’m not saying this is true for anyone else, but the correlation in my life is striking.
If your mother was hospitable, seeking to serve others through her home, there’s a good chance you “watched this and caught this”. But to the rest of us, we might need to put on our learning caps and do as the Lord said over and over again in Haggai, “Give careful thought to this”.
The problem with hospitality is, of course, how much time and money it takes. You will have to figure this out for yourself. Having people over also takes forethought, planning, and as I said before, work. Only a woman with “margins” can be hospitable.
1 Peter 4:9 says, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” Romans 12:13 says, “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Titus 1:8 says, “… (an overseer) must be hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.” And the verses go on and on (see the next section on “A Life Well-Lived”).
I used to read those verses on hospitality and think, “Dang, more to do, more to do.” Now I read those verses and say, “Wow, that’s so like You, God, giving us commands that BLESS us!”
Something to consider, my Friends, something to consider.