Is Hospitality an Option?

Mindy Kroesche

Mindy Kroesche | 07.07.09


Welcome FriendsWhen Paula told me this month's topic on True Woman was going to focus on hospitality, I was excited. That's a subject close to my heart. I love having people over, whether it's for a meal, dessert, over a weekend, or a play group.

Some women, like me, have a natural bent toward hospitality. Others don't. But that doesn't mean we should just leave it up to those who like to do it.

As we read through both the Old and New Testaments, God shows us that He values hospitality. We see Abraham welcoming the angels and offering them food and a chance to rest (Genesis 18:1–8). The widow of Zarephath shared what little she had with Elijah (1 Kings 17:10–24). Lydia invited Paul and Silas to be guests in her home (Acts 16:11–15). Even a Pharisee had Jesus over for dinner (Luke 11:37)!

There are a lot more biblical examples of people showing hospitality (I counted at least 29), but God goes even further on this subject. In the Law that God gave the Israelites through Moses, He  tells them to show kindness to aliens and strangers (Exodus 22:1, 23:9; Leviticus 19:10, 33–34). And in the New Testament, both Paul and Peter command us to practice this trait (Romans 12:13, 1 Peter 4:9).

So we kind of get the picture that hospitality is not just something nice we should do—it's something that as true women of God, we're supposed to do. Author and speaker Elisabeth Elliot even lists it as one of 11 responsibilities outlined for women in the New Testament (The Elisabeth Elliot Newsletter, May/June 1985).

Maybe hospitality overwhelms you. Maybe you think you need to have a large home that's perfectly in order while you serve elaborate meals. But that's not the case at all. Hospitality has more to do with opening up your home and heart to others than whether your living room looks like something off of HGTV. In fact, Webster's Unabridged Dictionary defines hospitality as: "The act or practice of one who is hospitable; reception and entertainment of strangers or guests without reward, or with kind and generous liberality."

One of the highest compliments I've ever gotten about my home from a guest is that it was cozy and peaceful. Was everything perfectly dusted? Hardly. Was it perfectly still and quiet? Not with a toddler and a dog in the house. But God had answered my prayer to create an environment where someone felt welcome and at peace.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Tomorrow I'm going to share some insights and practical tips I've learned about hospitality and having people in my home.

Topics: Homefront


  1. Mindy,
    It is also my heart's desire to maintain a home that is cozy and peaceful. As a single, I've enjoyed visiting many people in other places where I've been welcomed.
    This summer with the help of several friends I've been painting and making repairs to my home so that it will be easier to have guests over. We have also enoyed fellowship as we worked together. Thanks for today's blog.
    posted by Kathryn
    on Tuesday, July 7, 2009 at 7:24 am
  2. Dear Mindy,
    thank you for your blog. I love extending hospitality to people, even strangers. I count it a privilege to be able to serve people in our home. It is my earnest desire that all who enter our home not see us but see Christ and feel the love of God abounding in the four walls. One of my constant struggles is balancing our meager resources, especially with my being a young housewife and having a newborn, and using those resources to serve others. I am excited to read tomorrow's post because I do seek as many practical suggestions as possible. Thanks, again.
    posted by Vy Howard
    on Tuesday, July 7, 2009 at 8:56 am
  3. I believe hospitatlity is one of the christian characteristic that each christian is supposed to maintain. It doesn't need a big house or large menu or an advanced notice either. I believe as a child of God, I have to expect people to show up any time as the 3 angels appeared to Abraham. what we need is the abundance of the grace of God filled in our homes which others also experience as they enter into our house. Recently God gave us an opportunity to experience that blessing. When we went to visit a friend in the hospital we got a chance to meet his brother and his wife who came to visit him from a distant place. Though we were not much familiar, my husband invited them to stop by our home to just to have a meal. Though it was late evening, i got the motivation to prepare a qick meal for them. by the time they got our place was about 10 pm, they were so happy to share that meal with us. What the blessing in that was, last week when she called to express her thanks, I realized that she was a rectal cancer survivor who always prefer to have home made meals to avoid further consequences.
    posted by susan
    on Tuesday, July 7, 2009 at 10:03 am
  4. Just the thought of opening my home brings on anxiety. I have a mother in law who is very external and judges everything I do, down to the smallest thing. She walks through the house to see what I have done or haven't done. After 27 years of marriage you would think she would give me a break!!

    I do suffer from anxiety/panic attacks, having people over just intensifies that, I'm even taking meds. What if something isn't "just right", what if something doesn't turn out well, what will I talk about, how will I entertain these people, why would someone want to come to MY house and the list goes on and on........

    For those of you who LOVE to do this, I applaud you. But as for me who finds it difficult, it makes me want to hide in the closet!!!
    posted by Connie
    on Tuesday, July 7, 2009 at 10:36 am
  5. Over this past weekend I was paid a great compliment that was spoken to me off the cuff not realizing he had given me a compliment. We were having company after church and my pastor/husband had invited more people that I didn't realize he had invited until they came walking in the door. The invited family walked in knowing I would just add another plate to the table knowing they were always welcome. I share that not to put a feather in my cap, but to say that hospitality to me is an attitude of the heart. Whether our home is featured in House Beautiful or is smaller than we think can accomodate hospitality, we need to have open homes and open hearts. (name of a book I think) In my experience it is about people not the dust on the shelf or a five course meal. We had hamburgers and hotdogs.

    I used to be quite an introvert. Early in our marriage some 24 years ago, my husband said to me I needed to be more outgoing, more socialable, more, more, more. I didn't take it very well at first, but he was right. With God's help I now look forward to practicing hospitality not only in my home but other ways. My goal is to please God in all I do, whether eating or drinking or whatever I do to glorify God. 1 Corinthians 10:31
    posted by Jody
    on Tuesday, July 7, 2009 at 11:21 am
  6. Dear Connie,
    You really brought up something important: "How will I ENTERTAIN these people?" I think there is a real confusion between hospitality and entertaining. Quite frankly, we have more than enough entertainment in this country.

    Entertain: To hold the attention of with something amusing or diverting.
    Syn: To amuse; divert; maintain. See Amuse.

    Whereas Hospitality is more of a helpfulness and caring for others. (note it contains the word 'hospital' - where people who are in need, sick, etc., are helped)

    Sometimes these overlap, but mainly we want to keep in mind that hospitality basically means we are helping others in some way. It could be food and lodging (as it so often was in Bible days) - or it could be someone to listen, to encourage, to share the Word, etc.

    May I suggest to you that if it is hard to have folks into your home at this point, that you meet for coffee or tea somewhere....with someone who needs a friend, needs a listening ear, etc.

    You do not have to "entertain" the person - just ask how they are doing and listen. Someone once said that although we are all part of the body, most want to be the mouth - and what is also so badly needed are some ears!

    Hospitality is not about you or me - it's about the person who is coming in or whom we are meeting somewhere - it's about focusing on them and their needs, asking God to use us to bless them.

    If you want to have someone in your home, start small - have them over for coffee or tea....and ask God to help you be an instrument of his working in the life of that person, praying Psalm 29:11 - strength and peace.
    posted by Ellen
    on Tuesday, July 7, 2009 at 11:44 am
  7. Hospitality is still possible when you already have a very crowded home. We still have 9 of our children living at home, yet our doors are open. Usually, our overnight guests are friends of our teen or young adult daughters, and they sleep on an airbed in the girls' room. Right now we have a young lady staying with us for two weeks. She just moved out of her apartment, and will be leaving on a mission trip this weekend, so we're delighted to offer her a place to stay until then. Most often, our hospitality is having folks over for lunch after church. We have various extra folding tables and chairs for when we invite another large family over. It is not uncommon for us to have up to 20 people eating. We might have someone over every few months, not every week. We have also moved our hospitality to local parks for birthday parties. It doesn't have to be at home. The key ingredient is to make your guests feel welcome.
    posted by Virginia Knowles
    on Tuesday, July 7, 2009 at 12:17 pm
  8. In the current issue of Today's Christian Women there is an article about hospitality. One of the things I learned was "to bless, not impress." When I am trying to impress someone it makes the hospitality about me. When my goal is to bless them, it makes it about them. As my husband is big on hospitality (we have at least one impromptu dinner party/week) this article helped me to see clearly where my heart needs to be when we are serving people in our home.

    I heard a pastor say that fellowship is opening your home to believers and hospitality is opening it to "strangers." What do you think about this???
    posted by Tracy
    on Tuesday, July 7, 2009 at 4:28 pm
  9. Dear Connie,
    Thank you for your courage and sharing your heart and struggles here on the blog. My heart goes out to you, and I want you to know I've been praying for you today.

    I think Ellen gave you some very wise advice--there is a difference between "entertaining" and practicing hospitality. The first seems to me like it puts more emphasis on everything being "just right" as you put it. God doesn't put that kind of standard on us. In most of the biblical instances I listed in today's blog, the people showed hospitality by sharing what they had, which sometimes was very little.

    I also think Ellen hit the nail on the head when she said that hospitality has less to do with us but it's more about the person we're showing hospitality to. I would encourage you to think this week about one way you could show hospitality to another person. Ellen had a few ideas for you, but you can also do things outside of your home--introduce yourself to the new family at church and make them feel welcome, treat a stressed out friend to lunch or a cup of coffee and just listen as she shares what's going on in her life.

    I pray that as you look for ways to show hospitality to others, God will lessen your anxiety and give you peace.

    posted by Mindy Kroesche
    on Tuesday, July 7, 2009 at 10:44 pm
  10. Dear Tracy,
    Thanks so much for sharing what you've learned about hospitality. I love what you said about it being "to bless, not impress."

    As far as what your pastor said, I have to respectfully disagree. I don't claim to be a Bible scholar, but as I read what God's Word says about hospitality, I don't see that it makes that kind of distinction. Yes, we have fellowship with other Christians, which we don't have with unbelievers. However, I think God's Word says we need to show hospitality to both. In fact, 1 Peter 4:9 says that we should "offer hospitality to one another without grumbling." That "one another" refers to fellow believers.

    It sounds like God is really using you to bless others--at least one impromptu dinner party a week? Wow! Thank you for sharing your heart and how you are seeking to obey God in this area.

    posted by Mindy Kroesche
    on Tuesday, July 7, 2009 at 11:00 pm
  11. Dear Connie, Ellen and Mindy (and all),

    First, while reading Connie's post my heart felt a squeeze, I completly understand about anxiety, it is a plague of mine also (however not so bad when it comes to hospitality, thankfully). Now about the mother in law issue: My best friend in the world had a mother in law just like that, I think it lasted 20-25 years. It brought her so much heart ache and so many tormented hours of concern. I never could understand the situation as my friend seemed and still is the dearest heart in the world that I know of (I always thought, how could anyone pick on her?!!And often fantasized about calling that mother in law and expressing gently to her of her daughter in laws deep distress). It amazed me that someone so kind could have another woman trampling her underfoot so constantly. Perhaps unawares, who can say? What I am getting to Connie, is this: after 20-25 years of that exact same sort of treatment, one day something changed! My girlfriend, no doubt, prayed endless numbers of times about it. Today the two women work on the healing process, together, because our Lord saw fit to bring all of that pain to an end. I write this that you may carry hope in your heart. We have our struggles, as I am certian you're aware, because our Father has a plan. Maybe you'll carry this burdon on a while, or years longer or perhaps just around the corner you and your mother in law, together, will be enlightened through His love and finally begin your own healing process. You'll both be in my prayers tonight.

    Ellen, your advice was beautiful/lovely to read. I am so thankful that you wrote that as I myself wonder about 'entertaining' and have fretted about this aspect of hospitality. Listening ears is indeed the gift most of us require when we need healing and as hospitality is about comfort... well all I can say is thanks again Ellen for those words of encouragement.

    Mindy, your added coment about simply taking a 'stressed out friend' for coffee made me happy as that just happens to be one of my favorite things to do and I never once concidered that as me fullfilling my responsibility of hospitality! What a joyful thought. I think time like that is a gift to both and or all parties! Glad you mentioned it.

    Last thing, I wanted to say, I've another friend she lives in an itty-bitty house (maybe a thousand square feet but I think that even is stretching the imagination) and has it filled with 8 children and a husband. As far as I know she lets anyone, anytime come over! Any time I ever call her up, she let's my wee family of four come in with open arms. She's my little hero lady. No way is her house scrubbed within an inch of it's life BUT I never ever felt unwelcome nor uncosy. I hope this encourages all the ladies out there that think they have to polish the children and the sinks just because cousin 'Joe' is on the way. It's the kindness and warmth that make me just love going there. I just hope when I'm welcoming others to my home that I present the same way.

    Peace, love n' blessings all.
    posted by Jenny
    on Wednesday, July 8, 2009 at 1:13 am
  12. What a blessing is was to come here this morning and see all the comments and suggestions! I will read and reread each one. What I often forget is that when I try to practice hospitality, I do it with my own strength. How can the internal battle I struggle with be overcome when I am not relying on the Holy Spirit? It can't be done! Thank you all for your "hospitality" to me yesterday.

    I have enjoyed looking through you blog pages. It was nice to meet you!
    posted by Connie
    on Wednesday, July 8, 2009 at 8:09 am
  13. My most fun hospitality story is when I was at our usual family camp a few summers ago and a man who was sitting on a bench that I did not know spoke randomly to me as I was walking and said, " Hey thanks for having my brother-in-law over "
    What? I questioned. He proceeded to tell me that his brother in law was the german missionary I had over to lunch one sunday afternoon to help out our Pastor's wife who seemed exhausted entertaining the church speakers. Later I realized he was our old church friends sister's brother in law too. :D
    I totally recommend entertaining strangers, you or someone you know just may know them after all :D

    Go for it and have fun !!!
    posted by Judy Gallagher
    on Wednesday, July 8, 2009 at 9:42 am
  14. Mindy, Thanks for your response. I want to clarify that it wasn't my pastor who made the statement about fellowship/hospitality. I heard it at a conference and it didn't sit right with me. I also couldn't find Scripture to back up that statement.

    An added thought that encourages me in this area is from Romans 12:13. It says "practice hospitality." Maybe this means it gets easier with every effort!!
    posted by Tracy
    on Wednesday, July 8, 2009 at 10:18 am
  15. Hi Sisters in the Lord,
    Thank you for your stories of encouragement and real struggles related to hospitality. I love people and I am very relational. Most importantly the Lord gave me a soul winners heart for the lost! I do however have a case of "CHAOS" which stands for "Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome." I have too much clutter and I am trying to downsize all the stuff in my life. I am extremely embarrassed by all the stuff that needs to be downsized, filed, and organized. It would be difficult for me to pay for an organizer because I have been out of work since 2008. I know there are organized women out there who could help me and NOT judge me and in turn I could barter one of my talents to help them. Please say a prayer for me and does anyone have any suggestions?
    posted by Karen
    on Wednesday, July 8, 2009 at 11:09 am
  16. What happened to 6 tips and a recipe?
    posted by Marthann
    on Wednesday, July 8, 2009 at 5:11 pm
  17. Hey, Marthann,

    You can find the six tips and a recipe in the July 8 polst, "Making Things a Little Easier." Enjoy!
    posted by Paula Hendricks
    on Thursday, July 9, 2009 at 9:19 am
  18. Karen,
    There are times that I feel overwhelmed with my home, yard or 'projects.' I have several dear Christian girlfriends that I call for advice or to come over and help me. We have painted together, laughed as we sorted and organized closets and always took time to pray together. We involve teens or children so that they can see that cleaning can be fun. The job gets done and our friendships have grown.

    Crystal loves to clean and organize. Madel loves to paint and wallpaper. I like to sew and quilt. By working together the task gets done and we have fun in the process.

    I'll be praying for some organizer gals for you.
    posted by Kathryn
    on Thursday, July 9, 2009 at 11:59 am
  19. Hi Kathryn,
    Thanks for your encouragement and prayers! I really appreciate it.
    Wanting to get organized for His glory,
    Karen <><
    posted by Karen
    on Thursday, July 9, 2009 at 3:19 pm
  20. Hello, Ladies.
    I have enjoyed reading through all of your comments and suggestions. They were great and encouraging. My favorite way to encourage others is through the art of "Tea Time." Large or small it never fails to refresh the one who came.

    In reference to the definition of hospitality, I did a study on hospitality two years ago. I was surprised at what I found. The complete Word Study Dictionary states that "hospitality" comes from two words. One means "a friend or loving" the other means "strangers". The dictionary goes on to define Hospitality as "loving strangers; a friend of or kind to strangers". The reference numbers for hospitality and hospitable are 5381, 5382 and 3580. These words are only used in the New Testament.

    Connie, I have a dear lady who married into our family two years ago. She had been through a similar situation as yours. Because of past abusive words, She was not able to see the wonderful gifts that she had to give. Through much encouragement, she is slowly gaining confidence in her hospitality skills. She still has some panic at times but she is gaining ground with the Lord's help. I lift your eyes to Him today from whence comes your help. I praise Him today for what He has yet to do that you know not of in your life in this area.

    Blessings and prayers,
    posted by Rebecca R Whisnant
    on Monday, July 13, 2009 at 12:42 pm
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