Becoming a Good Steward of Your Home
Guest Post by Hilary Kimes Bernstein
Since leaving my parents’ house for college 19 years ago, I’ve called 13 different places “home.” I can assure you that I’ve become quite the pro at packing and unpacking.
Some of these homes have been dorm rooms; others have been tiny apartments – one rental that I nicknamed my “Munchkin Apartment” was actually a half-story, boasting ceilings that were a mere six feet tall – and I’ve been blessed to move into two actual houses.
When I think of all my homes, I love God’s promise in Isaiah 32:18 – “My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.”
A peaceful, secure home where I can have undisturbed rest is ideal.
No matter where I’ve lived, I’ve done the same thing the first night I start unpacking: I pray for the Lord to use me and my new home. I pray for safety, for good relationships with new neighbors, and for wonderful memories to be made in the walls of my dwelling.
I invite the Lord to make the space into the home He wants.
Even though my homes haven’t been perfect, my hope is to intentionally and responsibly use the spaces God blesses me with. I want to be a good steward wherever I live.
I’ve found that focusing on three areas has helped me a lot:
Open your home
Hospitality may or may not come naturally to you – but regardless of your comfort level, you still need to open your home to others. I’m often reminded of Hebrews 13:2: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
Some of my sweetest memories of the different places I’ve lived include times when friends and family members gathered around my kitchen table, sat in my living room for a heart-to-heart visit, or celebrated random holidays with a spur-of-the-moment party.
Sometimes most visitors gathered on the floor because seating was limited, but it didn’t matter – the company and conversations are what made the gatherings so special.
I know that I love being welcomed into the home of a friend or family member. You can’t quite get to know another person until you visit her home and see what things she finds important or lovely.
I enjoy noticing details like photographs that are displayed, the choice of colors in different rooms, or patterns on the dishware – little things reveal a lot about someone’s personality.
A welcoming place
Speaking of personalities, your home is your very own place to show off your individuality. You can make your home your own even on a frugal budget.
Get in the habit of watching for home items that you love and that fit in your price range. If you’re just starting out, don’t worry – with a purchase here and there, you’ll quickly add to your decor.
Instead of aiming for a show place, strive to create a home that’s welcoming – to yourself, your family and others. And create a home that’s full of love.
When thinking about what really matters in a home, I’m reminded of my favorite scene in L.M. Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables” series. In “Anne of the Island,” Gilbert and Anne are talking:
“I have a dream,” he said slowly. “I persist in dreaming it, although it has often seemed to me that it could never come true. I dream of a home with a hearth-fire in it, a cat and dog, the footsteps of friends – and you!”
“But I’ll have to ask you to wait a long time, Anne,” said Gilbert sadly. “It will be three years before I’ll finish my medical course. And even then there will be no diamond sunbursts and marble halls.”
“I don’t want sunbursts and marble halls. I just want you. … Sunbursts and marble halls may be all very well, but there is more ‘scope for imagination’ without them. And as for the waiting, that doesn’t matter. We’ll just be happy, waiting and working for each other – and dreaming. Oh, dreams will be very sweet now.”
Your home doesn’t have to be filled with diamond sunbursts and marble halls. Use your “scope for imagination” and create a welcoming haven. Most likely, the only thing your loved ones truly want is you.
A safe place
When I was pregnant with my first child, I quickly realized how important it was to create a safe home for my family. Just as my womb protected my child, I wanted our home to protect my child once he was born.
I knew I needed to remove dangers from our home, so I got busy making healthier choices. I began using safer cosmetics and personal care products. I switched to nontoxic cleaning products. I cut out processed foods.
Even though the adjustments took a lot of effort, I was encouraged when I realized I was managing my home in a biblical sense. In 1 Timothy 5:14, women are advised “to manage their homes.” And according to Titus 2:4, women should “be busy at home.”
While I appreciated my family’s healthy changes, I was most thankful that I knew I had made my home a healthy place to raise my babies.
Just as it’s important to make sure your family is protected from hazardous products, it’s also vital to make sure your home is an emotionally healthy place. A spiritually healthy place. A safe refuge from the world. After all, there’s no place like home.
To piggy back upon your ideas, I highly recommend the book The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer. Good stuff in there!
I never thought of making my home a safe place, just as the womb is a safe protected place. What a good thought! Here is an additional thought along the same lines. I was just reading about a study done that found that mothers who experience a serious grief or traumatic death of a loved one while pregnant end up giving birth to a child who is more prone to injury than if there was no such traumatic experience during pregnancy. This brings to mind the proverbs in scripture that talk aboout how it is better to have little to eat, or be extremely poor than have strife and riches. At first glance these two things don’t seem to be related, but we may do all we can physically for our children to protect them and they end up with more serious damage from emotional stresses in the home, from strained relationships and strife, if we are not careful to protect them from emotional damages as well.
What a fascinating study, Anna! Thanks so much for sharing it … and your insight.
What a timely reminder as my heart has recently been called to make this a focus. Thank You!
I’m an American in Australia and realized again how different Aussie homes are from American homes. Many Aussies have very modern style decorating – some to a cold, bare extreme. Even the older women whose homes I visit do not have much hanging on the wall or personal items on display (and horrifyingly, not many bookshelves!). I asked one older woman about it and she said perhaps because they spend so much time outdoors, they don’t “nest” the way Americans and Brits do. She was telling me how cluttered the homes she visited in the USA and UK were – filled with family pictures, knick-knacks, decorative items. Hospitality to many of my friends here is meeting at a restaurant or park or beach or if at home, on the deck or back yard. You don’t spend time inside their homes very often. Missions foreign and domestic is huge, street preaching/beach evangelism common, homeschooling and adoption and home Bible studies rare. However, they do love to travel and often stay with friends of friends so they are very open to letting travelers stay in their home. You’d love how healthy and environmentally responsible they are here. So all that to say that while I agree with what you have said, being a born and bred middle-class American, I see that Christians in other cultures view hospitality and home differently.
Yes to what Kim said! I live in the US and I think I might actually be Australian! Lol. I don’t have much décor at all… too much stuff and clutter stresses me out and decreases the “peacefulness” of the home 🙂 I have some family pics here and there, but not much else. We too rarely gather socially at each other’s homes, but instead gather in public places like at school, parks, free entertainment venues and restaurants. Safety is up for interpretation and I take it more literally or much more simplistic I guess… I consider “safe” to be in a home in a neighborhood where one can walk the streets anytime day or night, community neighborhood watches and looking out for each other and our kids, wearing helmets when riding bikes and scooters, making sure the pool gates and hot tub covers are locked, making sure the basement radon mitigation system is functioning properly, little hands away, etc. I feel like I am a “good steward of the home” for very different reasons
I love to see how God gives every person their own style and peacefulness preferences, Pam! Isn’t it funny how some people find comfort through doilies and knick knacks while others prefer a minimalistic approach!? I’m a lot like you … family pictures decorate my home, but not much else. It definitely makes dusting easier!
Hi Hiliary! I recognized your name from the natural mom Facebook group. So cool to see you here as a contributing writer. Thank you for this post!
Hi Bethany! Thanks for reading! 🙂
Hi Bethany! Thanks for reading!
I think stewardship of our homes also involves maintaining them. My husband and I “own” our house (we have a mortgage). We view it as a blessing God has given us so we can minister to those around us (raising our family, hospitality, etc.). We care for it (routine maintenance, yard work, repairs, small improvements, etc.) as a faithful steward would keep and oversee his master’s home. This will make our home last longer and allow us to preform more ministry out of it.
We also see stewardship of resources within the home (not wasting food, conserving water and electricity, etc.) to be important.
Thank you so much for bringing up such an important point, Shannon! I completely agree that maintaining our homes is part of stewardship. It’s also a very considerate way to literally “love your neighbor” … at least it’s one way to be a good neighbor.
I think it’s hard for a lot of women to give up the “perfection infection” and invite people into their homes, for fear they’ll be judged because the rug isn’t vacuumed…or there’s a spot on the trim that needs painting…or the piano is too dusty. I don’t know if that’s a trap I fall into, but we rarely have people over. I think in my case it’s more of a lack mentality I need to get over, because I feel like I have to go all out and end up spending way too much money just to have a simple dinner with extended family (my mother always hosts perfect meals, from start to finish, or at least it seems that way to me, and thus I feel that urge to mirror her great home-keeping model). But as my kids get older I most DEFINITELY want to be the mom whose kids’ friends are always welcome. There, again, however, I fall into another trap…I’m not really the frugal mom. I’m not the junk-food mom. I’m not the 100% healthy and organic mom. I feel like I have to fit into SOME sort of mold, and I don’t. At least I’m aware of it so that I can start working on it…just being me and proud of the steps I’ve taken to get here, prayerfully considering every step forward!
How very true! I know I struggle with the “perfection infection.” It’s a challenge to plan a simple meal for company and to not worry about the cleanliness of my house. I did hear about one mom who looks at the mess of her home as a ministry to other moms … if a room in her house is clearly messy, it helps visiting moms relax and realize that their own messy homes are completely normal. I think I should embrace that Ministry of Mess a little more often!
I enjoyed your post! I have begun to realize that probably the most important way we can be good stewards of our home, and protect our family, is to be in prayer and relationship with our heavenly Father! Obvious, but true! And we have found it important for our family to be vigilant in keeping “un-peaceful” things out of the house, like violent or evil movies, books, video games, toys, music that doesn’t glorify God, books that display bad attitudes or ungodly behavior and other seemingly innocent distractions and temptations… We actually don’t even have a TV in our house right now, nor do we plan to get one. Our boys are very young, but they are so impressionable at this age; we want to keep their hearts and minds pure. There are so many ways to do that, so one must be directed by the Holy Spirit.