Given to Hospitality

All Christians are exhorted to show hospitality (Heb. 13:2), but in 1 Tim. 3:2  we find that church officers are required to be “given to hospitality”. This seems to be more than occasionally inviting someone over for dinner, it seems that it’s a lifestyle.  What does that look like? How do we find the time? Energy? What about our budget?

I think that one key to hospitality in today’s have it all, do it all society is availability, making general decisions that allow you to fulfill specific needs as they occur.

Monday morning I receive a call from a friend. One of her children has broken his arm and they are on their way to see an orthopedist. Young Douglas requires surgery to successfully set his arm. The family hangs at our home for a couple of hours until it’s time for surgery and we keep 10 month old Caleb until surgery is finished.

While they are at the surgery center, the girls and I put together a simple dinner for three families. We deliver one to a family in the church whose mom is struggling through the first trimester of pregnancy, send one home with Douglas’ family and eat one ourselves.

Tuesday friends stop by and stay to let the kids play, we pass out water to our guests.

Wednesday my brother and his family come for dinner. They leave their 4 oldest children (3-8) while they head on to Nashville.

At midnight a tree falls on our neighbors house and Mark heads out with flashlights and tarps.

Thursday afternoon we deliver cookies to our neighbors. When we come out we notice a familiar car in our driveway. Suzanne and her husband Richie pay us a surprise visit on their way out of Alabama (they have no power because of the storms). They visit and play with the kids and stay for dinner.

We are blessed to visit with our friends, watch them wrestle with the kids and share their newest jokes. The fellowship of the saints is indeed sweet.

Friday we are taking a hot dinner to our neighbors who have no power, will welcome cousins for lunch (they’re bringing their own food) and hoping that our always-invited-for-family-fun-night-guest-who’s-really-part-of-the-family will make it to dinner this evening.

This isn’t a typical week, but somehow weeks like this occur much more often than one would think.  I suspect it’s God’s way of showing us  His vision for our family. It’s also a good reminder that hospitality is not about putting on a show and does not require a huge effort or budget. It’s simply sharing what you have with those who God brings into your life. (When the first you know about company is when they’re knocking on the door or already sitting on your couch, you quickly learn to share what you have.)

Hospitality is sharing a drink of  cold water, lending someone a flashlight, preparing a meal, babysitting, being available to listen, sending big kids out to be a momma’s helper or to mow a yard. Hospitality is being aware and available to fill needs as they arise.

To help fulfill this blessed requirement (2 Cor. 8:4) of being ‘given to hospitality’, our family has avoided filling our days with activities that call us away from home and make it difficult to be available. We try not to fill our time with things that we must do for ourselves and our children so that we have time and energy for others. We plan hospitality into the budget and then remember that Christ says that even sharing a cup of cold water in His name is blessed.

The amazing thing that we find as we strive to be more obedient and more faithful in this area is that the real blessing of hospitality is given to those practicing it.  We praise God for the relationships we’ve made as people come into our home as strangers leave our home as friends.

This post is included in the Christian Home carnival at The Legacy of Home.

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24 Responses to Given to Hospitality
  1. Roan
    April 29, 2011 | 10:08 am

    Thanks for sharing what a week of hospitality can look like. I think too often people think that hospitality has to be planned way in advance–complete with a fancy meal, much house cleaning, and general stress over the big event. I hope your ideas inspire people to just be hospitable. Plain and simple.
    Have a great day!
    Roan

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  2. Leigh Ann
    April 29, 2011 | 10:19 am

    I struggle with this because I never know what to cook for people! Can you give us more ideas on your meals you make to share? Thanks!

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    Tina Reply:

    Yes, please share any ideas for food! This is a struggle for me also.

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I’d like to do a series on hospitality, but until I get around to that check out these posts with recipes:
    Cooking for a crowd – I’m taking the Stroganoff to our neighbors tonight and served it’s what I served for dinner when my brother was here on Wednesday. Also my recipe page. I’m making the Mexican Lasagne for a get together tomorrow and made it to take to a friend last week. I like having the Fettuccine Alfredo ingredients on hand because it’s very quick to throw together if someone drops by last minute for dinner.

    I’m also not too proud to take frozen pizza, carrot sticks and ice cream to someone who needs a meal.

    I think most of this is just practice. I used to stress over what to serve to company or what to take to a friends, but after several years of regularly feeding groups of additional people, we now have a great supply of go-to meals.

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  3. Tina
    April 29, 2011 | 10:27 am

    Thanks for this post! One of our new years goals for 2011 is to have hospitality the focus of our home. Its been tough to get over my own worries and vain ideas. But the Lord has been working in our hearts. Last night for instance we had unexpected visitors and all though the house wasn’t in the shape I wished it had been for company, I was able to sit and enjoy our guests and not fret over the clutter sitting in plain view on the coffee table;) Although I did pick the clutter up this morning! Haha

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  4. Tristan
    April 29, 2011 | 10:35 am

    I enjoyed your post today. I do wonder how you get homeschooling done on days and weeks like this? I guess really my specific question is do you live in a state where you do not have much in the way of reporting requirements, so producing paper for a portfolio is not needed?

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    This is one of the reasons that we homeschool year round, it gives us more flexibility to get in our 180 required days. (We always get in way more than 180 days.)

    That said, this particular week we didn’t take any unplanned vacation from school. The kids accomplished full days of school on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and I knew that we would have the cousins for Thursday, Friday and Saturday and so had planned to do partial days.

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  5. Jama
    April 29, 2011 | 10:36 am

    I enjoy the HGTV show “House Hunters.” I would guess 90% of the couples on the show mention “entertaining” when looking at the layout of a home. Brian and I discussed this recently. “Entertaining” is not “hospitality”. Hospitality is just as you mentioned, it’s sharing what we have with those who have a need.

    Many years ago you shared with me how you never wanted your family to be too busy (with activities, school, etc.) to help others. I have tried to make that a priority in our lives too. This week I was able to send out my daughters on two occasions to help another mom. Thank you for your simple words that made such a lasting impression.

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Thank you for your love and friendship. God has blessed me beyond measure with supportive and loving friends and family. Thank you!!!

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  6. Tristan
    April 29, 2011 | 10:37 am

    Also I totally agree – hospitality can and is much simpler than the world would have us think. The world focuses on “entertaining” others when they come into our home, while we can and should focus on loving them enough to share ourselves and our everyday lives and skills with them. (Ex, a simple meal like we would already eat when others come over instead of a fancy meal).

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  7. Ruth Adams
    April 29, 2011 | 11:49 am

    I enjoyed reading this, Kimberly. It really challenges me as I am not naturally gifted in this. I have recently been having my eyes opened to how much the Bible teaches this principle. I guess I never really considered hospitality to be such an important area of obedience before. The Lord has been gently showing me this over some time, and I am trying to work on it. Sometimes it is just so inconvenient to be hospitable when I am already overwhelmed with my own family. I see it as an important area to be training my children in though so they can do better than I have done. Thank you for your wise and encouraging thoughts.

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  8. Tanya
    April 29, 2011 | 11:52 am

    Thank you for your post. Would you mind sharing some of your simple recipes you put together for events such as you describe? Would love some ideas of what to have on hand (-:

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I hope to post more of these types of recipes as I have time. See my response to Leigh Ann (above) for some links to recipes I’ve already posted.

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  9. Ashley
    April 29, 2011 | 12:01 pm

    Loved this post! Sometimes we too get caught up in selfish things and we dont remember that we also need to give our own time.

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  10. Gina
    April 29, 2011 | 12:21 pm

    Thanks for this! It was such an encouragement! We’ve been trying so hard to be a hospitable family, but so unsure what that looks like or even entails! This was so helpful!

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  11. Valerie Jorgovan
    April 29, 2011 | 2:11 pm

    I’ll be right there for my cupcake!!!! YUMMY!

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  12. jessica
    April 29, 2011 | 6:57 pm

    Thank you. A leader of my church recently counseled us to “strive to keep our lives…simple, unencumbered by extraneous influences, focused on those things that matter most.” He then spoke about serving our families, those at our church, and our communities. Thank you for your suggestions on how I can better do this.

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  13. Chrissy
    April 30, 2011 | 5:20 pm

    Hospitality is something I strive for everyday. I sure hope my friends, family and even a stranger or two feel welcome. I may not be the “hostess with the mostess” but I sure try!

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  14. Suzanne
    May 2, 2011 | 11:09 am

    As an encouragement to those of you (us) without a perfect home for “entertaining”. I recently was able to let my friend and her 4 kids stay with us for almost a week, while her husband started a new job & moved. I have 5 kids, and she and I are both pregnant.

    Everything was not “perfect”. The kids had to sleep in the dining room, because their bedroom was too cold, we had to put their baby in a pack in play in the closet, and my sweet friend slept on a couch that was just a little too short.
    We ate spaghetti, frozen pizzas, oatmeal for breakfast, and other large batch foods.

    I failed to mention our house is 100 years old and has no ceiling in several rooms on the main floor. So, far from perfect, we extended hospitality, which I had never done to anyone but family for short visits.

    Since then my friend has asked to always visit at my house (instead of her pretty, put together house) because mine was “more comfortable”.

    Go figure. What I was embarrassed to share made someone else feel comfortable. I think hospitality is more about making the other person feel welcome.

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  15. Lisa
    May 9, 2011 | 12:30 pm

    What a full week you had. A beautiful testimony to serving those around you! Thank-you for sharing this.

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  16. Melanie
    May 9, 2011 | 9:47 pm

    Thank you for this post! Honestly, I struggle with hospitality because I always want everything to be ‘perfect’ instead of just focusing on showing the love of Christ through hospitality. This is a great reminder to my heart today.

    So happy to find you at the “Encouragement is Contagious!” linky party on my blog! :) I’m your newest follower! I would love for you to link up again next time! :)

    Blessings!
    Melanie

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  17. Kyndra
    May 16, 2011 | 11:48 am

    Yes, hospitality is all of those things. We host a weekly open house for neighbors, friends and people who we think would benefit. Out of this grow relationships and opportunities for growth.

    I am amazed on how much our preschoolers are part of the weekly open house both with preparation and making people feel welcome when they come by at other times. Many of those who come to our home are not churched, many are seeking, some have been wounded by the church. By God’s grace all have an opportunity to see God’s love in action. Isn’t that the essence of living a witness to the Gospel?

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  18. Allison
    February 18, 2013 | 12:44 am

    I struggle with this very issue and am so grateful that I came across your blog, when I did. Thank you for reminding us that the heart behind the action matters more that the silly details that we often get caught up in. You have reminded me of what true hospitality looks like.

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  19. Megan
    July 25, 2013 | 7:02 pm

    Hi! I don’t know if you are still responding to messages left on this posting, but if you are, I do have one. Do you happen to have anything specifically on hospitality to neighbors? I’ve lived in our home for about 8 months, and have never met my neighbors :/ Now, I feel really awkward about trying to strike a friendship with them. Is friendship the goal? I guess I’m just lost on what I should be doing in that area. I’ll start praying about that. Thanks!

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