Practicing Hospitality Despite our Imperfections and Fear

Practicing Hospitality Through Imperfection & Fear

Do you get anxiety about practicing hospitality when you feel like your house is always a mess or you feel like a wreck with a tight budget? The post gives practical suggestions for practicing hospitality despite financial strain or lack or space.

Guest Post by Jami of Young Wife’s Guide

When I invite guests over to my house, I envision a perfect day of getting things ready.

My twin baby boys will be perfectly behaved. I will get up early and start preparing the beans and chicken for dinner. I will get the kitchen perfectly clean, pick up the toys, clean the toilet, make dinner and dessert from scratch, AND be perfectly dressed and put together when guests arrive at 6 o’clock.

Of course, my day actually looks more like this: Get up at 9:00 a.m. because the babies woke up three times last night. Can’t make the chicken because I left it on the counter all night while looking for the beans I forgot to soak. I try to scrub the kitchen floor.

The babies are teething and need constant attention all day. The babies spit up all over the nice clean rug. Dessert gets burned in the oven while I deal with the spit up.

Hubby gets home at 5:00 p.m. to chaos, and I hand him $20 and tell him to run to the store to quickly get food! The guests arrive at 6:00 p.m. sharp. I never took a shower; I have spit up down my back; the house is less than perfect. 

Does this ever sound like your day? Are you turned off from practicing hospitality because of it?

God doesn’t demand perfection

Oh wait – yes he does. That’s why Jesus came to this earth to die for us. He died because we aren’t perfect and never will be {in this life}. We need to remember that we can’t be the perfect homemaker, wife, or hospitality extender.

Kitchens will be messy, dessert will burn, and babies will cry.

But what we do need to focus on, despite our imperfections, is serving those around us. Hospitality is about so much more than entertaining

It’s about relationships. It’s about getting to know those in your church and neighborhood who are hurting for human connection, love, and service. We have so many examples of hospitality in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

“Hospitality from a Biblical perspective is to recognize that God is more interested in caring relationships than the mold behind the shower curtain…It need not matter if we live in a single-room apartment or a split-level ranch, the only real requirement is allowing God to use our lives and our possessions…Our homes and our lives are indeed the most powerful combination of ministry to our world.” ~ Hospitality with Confidence, page 9

Hospitality is something that should permeate the church. It should be the lifeblood of community that should be thriving in each church so much so that your neighborhoods feel the affects of hospitality.

Hospitality is about so much more than entertaining. It's about relationships. It's about getting to know those in your church and neighborhood who are hurting for human connection, love, and service. Hospitality is about following God's command to love your neighbor. ~ Jami Balmet -

Simple Ways to Show Hospitality

Hospitality is not about having the perfect house or showing off your cooking skills. Hospitality is about meeting people where they are and learning how you can best serve them – whether that be with a warm meal or friendly conversation.

Hospitality doesn’t need to be expensive. You don’t need special skills or resources. All you need is a willingness to serve and the motivation to go do it!

“Hospitality is about a heart for service, the creativity to stretch whatever we do have available, and the energy to give the time necessary to add a flourish to ordinary events of life.” Practicing Hospitality: The Joy of Serving Others,  page 15

Provide Coffee or Dessert – Keep it simple

Having people over doesn’t always have to be for dinner. Sometimes this causes financial strain for families, or it’s hard to find the time. So have the single mom from down the street over for coffee. Invite that new family at church over for dessert after the evening service. Don’t over-think it. Just provide some hot coffee or some cookies and get to know each other!

Meet at a Park

I know a big concern for many people who want to practice hospitality is having enough room. While it’s entirely possible to practice hospitality even in a small apartment, an easy way to have a big family over is to meet at a park for a picnic lunch. Each family can bring their own meals {maybe you can provide dessert} and you can get to know each other in the sunshine while your kids play together.

Use Your Gifts

Think of some ways that you are gifted and can bless others with that gift. I like to decorate cakes. So when I hear of a baby shower or celebration at our church I like to volunteer my gift if I have the time.

Do you like to bake bread or make homemade jam? Find out who you can bless with those gifts!

Hosting a potluck BBQ is a simple and easy way to practice low-stress hospitality!
Photo by woodleywonderworks

Have a BBQ

Invite your neighborhood over for a backyard BBQ, get to know those who live nearby, and be good witnesses of the Gospel! This way you don’t have to spend time getting the house nice and clean before having others over.

Host a Potluck

If you are inviting others over often, this can create quite a financial strain over time, especially when you are committed to eating healthy. Invite a large group over and ask each family to bring a main course or a side dish.

Hosting a potluck opens up the door for hospitality without putting all the strain on you and your family. You can easily have large groups (like your Bible study group) over without feeling the financial strain and having to spend days in preparation.

Even better – have a BBQ potluck outside so you don’t have to get the house ready either!

Host Out-of-Town Guests

Do you have a spare bedroom or open couch? Offer up your house to out-of-town guests as a free place to stay! Many times missionaries, students, and businessmen are traveling and they will greatly appreciate the warmth of being invited into your home.

Practicing hospitality doesn’t have to be overwhelming, scary or financially stressful. The threat of feeling like we have to be perfect can cause us not to open our homes and our lives to others. It can feel like we have to have a perfect house and be a gourmet chef in order to have people over.

We can be paralyzed by the fear of hospitality, but hospitality doesn’t have to be intimidating. Whether you live in a big house with lots of room or a small apartment, hospitality is doable and vital to the health of the church. Here are a few resources to get you started if you want to practice hospitality for the first time.

How do you practice hospitality? What are some ways you can show love to others despite your fears and flaws?

Top image by Elin B

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  1. I love this post, Jami! It is so true … my plans are always so much grander than reality. 🙂 But it’s so important to practice hospitality anyway!

  2. we have a small house but when it came time for the kitchen table part of the design we knew that we wanted a big table for the purpose of having company over, its so nice feeling comfortable having people over and chating and enjoying even the simplist meal together. we are trying to eat healthy as we and I’ll be honest even if we have company over I really don’t mind saying well eat up the hot stuff cus we don’t really have deserts around our house. most people are understanding 🙂

    1. Oh totally! We don’t always have desserts for when guests come over {besides it costs more $$}! But if I do then I have something that is slightly more healthy like a dessert made with raw honey or yummy fruit during the summer!

      One thing on my wish list when we move into a bigger house is a nice large table! 😀

  3. We have one simple rule in our house. It is a safe haven for anyone and everyone is welcome. No bullying, name calling, hatred, gossip, or cruelty is allowed in our house. Ever. I have escorted good friends out the door without a second thought. I have been accused of being racist, sexist, close minded, a “n—-r” lover, fag hag, among other things that are far worse. I have been called every foul name that anyone can come up with. 99% come around and apologize, as they later realize that they had been in violation of that rule. The rest? I just pray for them and go on with my life.

  4. I enjoyed your post, and totally agree with it. I have found that in the past, being new to opening up my own home to company, I would get so stressed out about details or having things perfect that I had a hard time enjoying my company (and probably made them feel uncomfortable too). More recently, I have felt the Lord working on my heart in that area, encouraging me to lay down at His feet my need to have everything just right. I have instead been focusing more on praying for my guests and for praying a blessing over our time together. Whenever I have been the guest, I have remembered that when my hosts were kind and friendly and at ease, I didn’t even care what their house looked like or what I ate, I was just enjoying myself spending time with them! So I wanted to impart that feeling of comfort and peace when we practice hospitality as well. I do my best to get the house cleaned and a nice meal on the table, but I have 2 boys, 2 1/2 and 4 months, and I can never achieve perfection… I am a work in progress 🙂 But it seems to be working–I am much more at peace lately when we have people visiting our house!! Thanks for a great post. So pertinent to many young housewives and moms.

  5. I am absolutely joyed by your post. You give examples of what people can do instead and that’s fabulous! I feel like too many times Christian blogs do not actually talk about the things we are supposed to be doing! I mean that’s different from secular thinking. This isn’t a completely new idea but it is more focused on Christ-like behavior. Thanks

  6. This post is so timely. I just started Soul Food Sundays at our home for this exact reason. I am a caterer/personal chef, so the cooking is fun for me. But the opening my home and inviting strangers was not fun. I felt God urging me to start this fellowship opportunity and I was so blessed by the first gathering. I felt at ease. I even shared with the group how nervous I was to invite people over. The house is small, but 12 people fit with the aid of folding chairs from our church. The house was not spotless and I even made a joke about it that seemed to put everyone at ease as we laughed about it. This is my opportunity to feed the souls of our church family. Thank you for this confirmation.

  7. Another way to put hospitality to practice is to participate in the Candle in the Window — it is a Christian hospitality network (my words).

  8. I am so blessed reading this!! This is my hearts desire for my home to become a place of hospitality and love! I have two children 3 & 2 and this has encouraged me to relax and just make the call or bake that bread and teach my kids by example how to love and enjoy people. Thank you 🙂

  9. Thank you for your encouraging post! It’s so easy to get caught up in the idea of being the ‘perfect host’ especially with all the ideas you can find in pinterest! If we stop worrying about what someone might think if the house isn’t spotless what our guests will remember is coming to a home that is REAL… one that is lived in, not a model where you’re afraid to ‘mess up’ something. Everyone will be more comfortable and the relationships and bonds formed the real blessing. How much simpler and less stressful to just go about dinner as if it is a normal evening (maybe just double the recipe 😉 and welcome your guests! I can’t wait to open our home up more often!

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