The Secret to Real Hospitality – Even When Your Home is a Mess
Do you struggle to answer God’s call to real hospitality? I know I do. Some people just seem to be good at it. Their houses are clean, their meals are perfect and they just always have people over.
My husband and I are far different. We love being social and are both extremely extroverted, but when it comes to having people to our house, we just don’t. It’s a struggle because I fear that my house isn’t clean enough, my cooking won’t be good enough and the intimate setting could become awkward.
Next week, I will be diving into each of these barriers and how to overcome them with practical tips and methods, but for today, I want to talk about the most important part of hospitality. The one thing you need in order to truly be hospitable and answer God’s call in this, even if it’s a struggle for you.
The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. -1 Peter 4:7-10
The truth is, hospitality does not have to do with the state of our homes or our meals, but the state of our hearts.
Real hospitality requires authenticity.
It’s when we open the door to our hearts that people can feel invited in, loved and experience God’s grace. I’m not saying to leave your house a complete disaster, but in so many cases, the perfection we strive for closes the door to authenticity.
Perfection Closes the Door
When I walk into someone’s house that is completely spotless and beautifully decorated, I don’t feel invited in, I feel intimidated. I begin to compare my disaster-of-a-house to the beautiful home in which I sit and I feel inadequate.
I begin to think that there is no way I could invite people over to my real-life house when others are so much more on top of their own. And I also think that maybe there is something wrong with me that I can’t quite keep my home up to these standards. I fear judgment and I fear being inadequate. And so I don’t invite people in. I end up rarely having others over because my house (which has been in a state of remodel for the past year) never seems to measure up.
It is the same way when I find myself talking to someone who seems to have it all together. And I know I do the same to others. When we appear put together in every way, it closes the door to that authenticity. When we seem “perfect”, others don’t feel comfortable opening up and inviting in God’s grace. And this inhibits the hospitality that God calls us to.
I know this from experience. I’ve struggled over the past few years after being surrounded by those who seem to always have it together. There isn’t a lot of talk about struggles and shortcomings. And I found myself feeling so inadequate that I began to hide my own struggles.
In this idea of “fine” that we are so encouraged to portray in today’s society, we shut the door to true hospitality.
Because true hospitality requires authenticity and vulnerability. And this means we need to open the doors to the messy parts of our lives and the messy parts of our hearts. It’s only in that vulnerability that we open the door to true hospitality and others around us can be invited into God’s grace.
Vulnerability Opens the Door
Vulnerability isn’t easy. But when we are authentic, we open the door for others to open their hearts.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve decided to go first and be vulnerable and the person I was with ended up spilling their heart as well. It is a blessing when we can come to the place of sharing our vulnerability and inviting others in in healthy ways.
I’ve seen God move in big ways when I’ve taken this step. And yet, I still find it so hard to be vulnerable with my home.
The truth is, even if there are dishes in the sink and laundry sitting unfolded on the couch, I can still clear a spot for a friend to sit down and share their heart.
It’s in that authenticity and vulnerability that people feel welcome.
So leave the “mess” you so desperately want to throw in the bedroom or hide in the closet and cabinets and invite someone in. Open the door to sharing God’s grace by inviting others into your not-so-perfect house.
Allow yourself the grace to not be perfect. You can only meet someone at a coffee shop so many times. It’s when you invite them into your home that you can find the environment to true vulnerability.
Using Your Gifts – A Challenge
We all have different gifts. I used to think that mine were inadequate because I am not detail-oriented or great at keeping my house clean. And I’d so much rather order a pizza so I can sit and talk with everyone instead of standing in the kitchen preparing a meal.
But God calls us all to hospitality. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this statement is followed by the call to use our unique gifts to steward God’s grace.
What is your unique gifting? Whether it’s creating a beautiful home that welcomes people in or simply ordering a pizza so that you can use a gift of encouragement or understanding to be hospitable, you can do this today, this week.
So let’s take this challenge together. There’s a reason I’m sharing this topic first in the series.
It’s because a clean home and well-prepared meal will not open the door to hospitality without an authentic heart.
No matter your gifting, invite someone in this week. Whether it’s just to stop by or if it’s for a meal, open the door to hospitality this week so that you can show someone God’s grace.
What do you struggle with when it comes to hospitality?
And be sure to join us next week to talk about practical tips and methods to break down the barriers to inviting others into your home.
I struggle as I keep on getting compared with the ex wife. If I bake something or do entertaining then I have to hear how well she did it. Sharing space with the in laws is already challenging. I have mentioned that God gives us each our own uniqueness ~ any advice.
Chanien, Take heart that some ppl can just be hateful. And, sometimes, people have a difficult time moving forward, especially when there’s an “ex” of some sort. Know that, It’s not you that can change the comparison issue. It’s the other people who have to make the adjustment. All you can do is be you. I know from experience, this can be so hard. Try taking a deep breath, say a personal prayer and possibly speaking to (via phone) a friend or family before you know you’re going to encounter being “compared” to the ex. This way, you can be lifted up beforehand. Don’t play to the others hand. That’s unfortunately what they want you to do. I hope this advice helps? Blessings to you. 🙏
Thank you for sharing your story, Chanien. I cannot imagine how difficult that must be. But know that you are made perfectly in God’s image. You were created for a purpose. You have unique gifts and a unique heart that God can and will use right where you are. I hope that you can find the strength to lean into God and discover the confidence to live out this purpose with joy <3
You read my heart! Thank you for this!!
I really enjoyed reading this post. I struggle with wanting everything to be perfect, and then get left feeling disappointed because nothing ever will be perfect! Thank you, this is inspiring.
We host worship meetings every other week, homeschool theater rehearsals once a month, and homeschool co-ops every week. I’m naturally a neat freak, so my home is always physically ready for all the extra guests, however, I struggle with actually being a “hostess” when they’re all here. I’m an introvert by nature, and though I love opening my home to others, and though I’m truly happy they are here, I tend to keep myself super busy picking things up and staying out of everyone’s way just so I don’t have to talk.
I love how you suggest using “your gifts!” Yes, everyone has something welcoming to offer. I feel weird, too, when I step into a perfectly clean and tidy place!
Hospitality is about the state of our hearts! I love this! We get so caught up in the idea of being perfect sometimes. I needed this today.
ah thank goodness I’m not the only one intimidated by spotless clean. there were some great points made here! Loving this post.
I too share this feeling of not really wanting to have people over.
I don´t know exactly what it is but sometimes I feel like letting someone in your house is too intimate.
I feel like our house is so revealing, it shows sides of us and our personalities that people may have not yet been allowed to see but you´re right, we shouldn´t aim for perfection before inviting someone over, we should just relax and make the environment as warming and as inviting as possible, even if it is a little messy!
I totally get feeling like what I have to offer isn’t good enough.
I like how you said to be vulnerable first. We all just crave real connection.
Great stuff here, really enjoyed reading this. I think too many times we want everything to be perfect.