The subject At the Well today (click on link to go there) coincides perfectly with the series I’ve been doing: “Biblical Hospitality.” Here are the questions (excellent ones, don’t you think?):
What excuses have you used lately to justify not “entertaining” in your home?
What are some steps you can take to prepare your home to have others over?
What are some steps you need to take to prepare your heart for an attitude?
Despite my current blog-series on Hospitality, there are times when I don’t “feel” very hospitable, or I “fall out of the habit.” God says “use hospitality one to another without grudging.” 1 Peter 4:9 (The word “use” indicates repeated and regular activity.) This verse (no coincidence) follows directly after, “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves; for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” I think that it’s so much easier to “practice” hospitality, as we say, when you’re doing it often. Like practicing an instrument or a sport, your body learns to automatically do certain tasks, your hands become adept at using the tools of cooking, and you move quickly around your kitchen and through the steps of preparing the table, and your mind remembers what needs to be done next because you’ve done it a million times before (or many times, anyway). Decisions are easily made (this is one of my biggest obstacles) because “it worked last time, so let’s just do it again.” So, the hard part is getting back into the habit of showing hospitality. Here are some things I need to do to get back into the habit and mindset, or attitude, of “being hospitable.”
1) First, I need to confess my lack of love and my selfishness (and my pride, my fear and my slothfulness). My pride because I think I’ve got to have fill-in-the-blank before I can invite someone over; my lack of love and my selfishness because I care more about “my” time, “my” energy, and “my” agenda than someone else who I could bless; my fear of “failure,” (really a Self-focus with a capital “S”) and, my slothfulness because I’ve let my lack of orderliness/cleanliness stand in the way of my obeying God’s command. Whew!
2) Ask God to show us who He’d like us to invite over, and ask my husband for his thoughts on the subject.
3) Start simple. (At the end of this post are 7 tried-and-true, easy and inexpensive ideas that have worked for me in the past.)
4) Set up several times about a week or less apart to have people over, the first one about 1-1/2 to 2 weeks off in the future. This will give me time to get my house in order. Now I can make the phone calls to invite our guests.
5) On the calendar, schedule several chunks of time, 1-2 hours each, between now and when the first guests are scheduled to come, for tackling whatever’s bothering me most in my house. What’s bothering me right now is actually 2 things: the house needs a general overall cleaning, and my bedroom is a mess. I know that no one will probably even see my bedroom, and this would not stop me from having people over if it were the only obstacle, (I would just get it as clean as possible and then close the door), but as long as I’ve got a couple of weeks until the first guests arrive, I want to get it de-cluttered, and I will feel more relaxed knowing that if someone does “accidentally” open that door, I won’t be embarrassed. My bedroom is where everything goes when I need to clean up the main part of the house quickly. There are paper piles (some just need to be filed–I hate filing), and other things to put away. And then there’s the clothes. We’re still not through making the switch in our closets from summer to winter clothes and packing away the out-of-season clothes in the cedar closet. I will need to schedule a time to have my husband try on clothes before we decide whether to keep or give them away. Whatever area of the home needs attention, the answer is to schedule a time to tackle it–or several smaller chunks of time, if it’s a bigger job, and to break it down into manageable pieces–and then just do it. Picturing myself accomplishing each step helps me to know where to begin. If I dedicate time to it and enlist help, it’ll get done. Practicing hospitality is a great encouragement to order in the home. When the family knows company is coming, there is much more cooperation and incentive to clean. We’re also more likely to keep things picked up when we know company’s coming again soon and that’s why scheduling several “events” in quick succession works well. Often during Christmas vacation, when my husband is home, we will have several skating parties in one week. The guests are outside for the most part, I serve snacks and hot chocolate in Christmas mugs that I picked up somewhere very cheaply, and I have to clean only once–hurray!
6) Lastly, I will be flexible and have another date ready to suggest, if the first one doesn’t work out for my guests. I will keep on trying, not expecting perfection of myself, because after all, it’s called “practicing” hospitality.
Since the biggest obstacles in showing hospitality for me are deciding what to serve and the work and cost involved in preparing the food, here are: