4 Practical Tips to Overcome the Barriers to Real Hospitality
My home is a mess.
I’m pretty busy this week, maybe next week.
I’m not the best cook.
I’m not sure who to invite.
Do any of these sound familiar? As we approach inviting others in, we all face these barriers to hospitality and so many more. Inviting others in, especially those we aren’t comfortable with isn’t easy. I’m in the same boat here.
Last week I shared about how difficult hospitality is for my husband and I and the most important part of real hospitality (hint: it has nothing to do with your home).
We all face these barriers to inviting others into our homes. And yet we are all called to hospitality. We are all called to invite others in to share God’s grace.
So today, I want to talk about how we can practically overcome these barriers to hospitality - in real life. There’s no magic button and that’s okay. Even if you’re (like me) really bad at keeping your home clean and inviting others in - there are ways that you can overcome these barriers!
Let’s dive in to some practical methods to overcome the barriers to real hospitality.
Barrier #1: My Home is a Mess
There are two types of messy. There’s messy where the house is mostly clean but there are a few dishes in the sink or a small pile of laundry on the couch. And then there’s messy where the floors haven’t been swept, the dishes are piled high, the table is stacked with junk and the bathroom is in desperate need of a scrub down.
If I’m being honest, most of the time - I’m the second type of messy. If I want to have people over, it takes me two days to clean the house. Not only do I need to get the sweeping and bathroom-cleaning done, but I have to declutter almost every single visible room. Junk just stacks up so easy!
But recently, I’ve been learning some awesome ways to overcome this and keep my house in decent shape all.the.time.
I’m not saying I keep it spotless, but I’m able to keep it presentable and this makes all the difference when I think about having people over.
So how can you get your home to the place where it is presentable - anytime?
First, set a cleaning schedule.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with this. I’m talking the basics here. Pick one or two days (depending on what’s needed) that you will sweep or vacuum. Choose one day a week that you will do a quick clean of the bathrooms and one day a month you will scrub them down (including the shower).
When I’ve started regularly doing these things, I’ve found it so much easier to clean for having people over. It was no longer a monumental 2-3 day cleaning frenzy that needed to happen, but a quick tidying up that allowed me to feel comfortable with my home.
Decluttering is a hot topic right now. Everyone is talking about it. I always assumed it was for people who lived like hoarders. But one day as I sat on my couch, I realized that the corner of my living room had a pile of junk. A few Amazon boxes, a few books and a bag. Not a lot, but still - cluttered. And as I looked around, I realized a lot of corners or counters or desks looked like that!
Look around your house right now (or when you get home). Is there clutter around? Do you have things stacked on your table or counter that don't belong?
Decluttering is simply the process of removing things from an area from which they don’t belong.
My Bible and books don’t belong on the kitchen counter, they belong beside my bed or on my bookshelf. My sweatshirt doesn’t belong draped over the couch arm, it belongs hung in the bedroom.
These are small examples, but they add up and make the world of a difference.
When your home is decluttered, it is SO much easier to tidy up when having guests over. I no longer have to shove half of the living room into my bedroom when we have people over. I now simply have to fold the blankets and straighten the couch pillows.
Decluttering takes away so much of the stress that is sparked when trying to invite people in.
And for just a few days, you can get this bundle that will help you to not only declutter your home, but to make it a place you love (along with several other resources on home, family and faith!)
Barrier #2: I’m Pretty Busy
I don’t know about you, but our schedule gets packed out way too easily.
One minute, we will have an open week and the next, we’ll have something every single night. And before you know it, weeks and even months go by without inviting anyone in.
But real hospitality takes intentionality.
And the best way to overcome this barrier is to be intentional about scheduling it in. Even if you don’t know who to invite, set aside one or two nights a month that you can invite others to your home.
If you schedule these nights in before your weeks get full, you will find the time.
Take out your calendar right now and pick a night that you can invite others into your home. Schedule it in, write it down, do what it takes to set aside that time right now.
Don’t just wait for an open night, take the time to schedule in moments of hospitality. God will bless these times when you do.
Barrier #3: I’m Not the Best Cook or I Don’t Know What to Make
Not feeling comfortable cooking for others is a huge barrier to inviting others to your home. I mean, most of the time you end up inviting people for dinner. And so dinner is a big part. And as the main cook of our home, I feel it is my responsibility to cook.
And there are a lot of factors that go into this. What are the dietary needs of your guest? What foods do you have on hand? What will be easy to make but absolutely delicious?
All these questions pile up and leave me feeling too pressured and I end up not inviting people over. We always end up saying, “Let’s just go out to eat”.
But inviting others into your home is a powerful way to show hospitality and share God’s grace.
So the biggest way that I’ve found to overcome this barrier to hospitality is to have a few easy, go-to meals that you can make for whoever comes over.
Here are mine: White Chicken Chili, Spaghetti and Sheet Pan Meals.
They are quick, easy and a lot of times, I have the ingredients on hand.
And remember, you can ask if there are any dietary needs!
I always thought I couldn't ask. But now I will literally ask when I invite someone over, “Is spaghetti okay?” and “Do you have any allergies?”
This is their opportunity to share if they have any specific dietary needs and give me the affirmation that the meal I am making is expected and okay.
Barrier #4: I Don’t Know Who to Invite
For a long time we had so many people that we wanted to invite over that we ended up never inviting anyone. Or maybe like so many others, you have no idea who to invite.
Don’t let this stop you!!
If you have nights scheduled in to have people over, I would encourage you to pray about who needs to be invited in. Who could find encouragement in growing relationships?
I want you to right now grab a piece of paper, a sticky note or your phone. Jot down two or three names or couples that come to mind. Maybe it’s people in your church or maybe it’s your neighbor you hardly talk to or maybe it’s a coworker. Jot down any names that come to mind.
And over the next few days, pray about these names. Ask God to put on your heart who you can invite in.
Don’t let Satan distract you from God’s call to real hospitality because of these barriers.
Take the time to do what is necessary to set yourself up for success. Because real hospitality opens the door to God’s love and grace for those who are invited in. And God will bring you so many blessings when you humbly answer that call.
Great post! I totally agree with these 4 barriers. I have faced all of them at one time or another.
Thanks, Jennifer! They are so tough, but SO common. I’m glad I’m finding practical ways to overcome them 🙂
This is a great post! I need to clean for a few days, too! But my areas are cluttered! I really need to get better about that! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks, Patricia! And I’d love for you to join me in the decluttering challenge!! I was so scared to tackle my scariest areas for so long, but I’m actually excited as I’ve finally started and committed to getting it done!!
OOoh #2 – But real hospitality takes intentionality – really got me. If I am not intentional about planning to see people I get caught up in my own routines and schedules. I need to plan to see people to make sure it happens! (especially being an introvert) haha
YES! It’s so easy to get caught up in our routines. Life can get so busy so quick!! Thanks for stopping by, Sarah!!
I always seem to get stuck with barrier #1! But, I’ve been trying to declutter a little bit at a time (we have a lot of STUFF that plain doesn’t need to be in the house!). And I’m noticing that as things leave the house, it gets so much easier to KEEP clean! As for not knowing what to cook, a lot of the people we are close to that we have to our home have quite a bit of dietary needs. So, I usually do potluck, so that everyone can bring something they know they can eat. And they all love to do it!
Me too!! That’s my biggest one, by far. You should check out that free challenge, it’s SO helpful and makes decluttering seem simple and manageable! A potluck is a great idea, too. I may have to try that! Thanks for stopping by, Lisa!
I love this! It is so true, we can come up with a million reasons not to invite someone over…but true hospitality is about reaching out and making someone feel welcome. Not how perfect our houses look. A few years ago God prompted me to invite a new couple over that had just started attending our church. I laugh because it was the absolute worst time (which of course my husband loved)…we were just about to dig into a 3 week project to re-roof our house. But we invited them over anyways because we felt called to…and they have become some of our closest friends. Thanks again for sharing.
That’s so awesome to hear how God blessed you through following His promptings! It always is those worst times that God asks us to do something isn’t it?! 🙂 Thanks for your comment, Amy!