What do you think of when you hear the word “hospitality?” Do think inviting friends to your home for dinner, or do you see visions of large hotel complexes and the hospitality industry?
When I hear the word “hospitality,” I think of my mama. Whether an elaborate Christmas gathering with decorations, candles, and “party food” served on silver trays, a luncheon with lace tablecloth, “good” china, and crystal, or salad served with cheese and crackers to a few friends, mama knew how to make people feel welcome and special.
In the current climate of busyness, pressure, and criticism, hospitality is a concept that is somewhat out of vogue in our culture. We’re much more likely to encounter hostility rather than hospitality. But let’s look at how practicing hospitality fuels forward motion.
Hospitality Encourages Relationships
Hospitality is more than inviting people to your home and hosting a party. To be hospitable means to be affable, cordial, genial, gracious, sociable, receptive, and welcoming. While we sometimes offer hospitality in our homes, we often don’t exercise personal hospitality. We hold ourselves at a distance emotionally, failing to offer hospitality in the form of a listening ear or act of service because our lives are so scheduled we hardly have time to meet current demands. Other times, we’re available, but simply choose not to be involved. Instead of thinking about hospitality from a time commitment perspective, view hospitality as relationship-building. Good relationships don’t just happen; they take cultivation. See hospitality as a way to grow relationships.
Hospitality Reaches Out to Others
Often, we get caught up in having everything perfect before inviting others to our homes, but most people are thankful for the opportunity to gather and are more interested in interacting with others than giving your baseboards the white glove test. Think about what your invitation will mean to someone grieving loss, struggling with a life challenge, or experiencing loneliness. Your graciousness doesn’t have to include hosting a five-course dinner. Your gift of hospitality can be a phone call, an offer to pick up groceries, lunch at a nearby sandwich place, or prayer in the parking lot. Begin to think of hospitality as making yourself available to those in need.
Hospitality Changes Perspectives
In my travels, I often here people from other areas of the country refer to “Southern Hospitality” when they hear my accent. One woman said, “Southerners are just so nice!” I think what she really meant was we smile and offer a greeting rather than averting our eyes and ignoring those we encounter. We offer for someone with a smaller purchase to go ahead of us in line. We defer to a young mother or senior adult. We hold a door open for a stranger. What is courteous, thoughtful, and automatic for some isn’t even considered an opportunity by others. But if you demonstrate hospitality, treating people with respect and being gracious, others notice. Hospitality changes you and it has an impact on those around you. Your act of thoughtful courtesy encourages others to practice hospitality.
Hospitality Opens Hearts
Have you even known someone you’d describe as hard-hearted? The dictionary defines hard-hearted as lacking in sympathetic understanding. Sometimes circumstances render a hard heart; other times it’s a character flaw. A hard heart is closed, while an open heart is receptive. Whether extended or received, hospitality is a heart opener. An open heart hangs out a welcome sign. Move forward by giving the gift of hospitality and you will avail yourself of more blessings than you can imagine.
“Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality.” Romans 12:13 CSB
©Candy Arrington 2019