Search This Blog

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Entertaining, or Hospitality?

I recently watched my 4 episodes different HGTV shoes while folding laundry and was I was struck by the repetition of the same phrase in all four,  "I want to entertain in this house." 

Entertaining friends is great, I am a big fan. There is nothing wrong with the word or action.
 The problem comes when motivation underlying this word is contrasted with the word hospitality.

The focus of entertainment is on the entertainer. 

The focus of hospitality is on the audience. 

Am I turning hospitality into a "Look at me!" situation because in my heart I really want the focus on me? The gifting of  hospitality is a beautiful thing, but we can warp it easily when our pride gets in the way.  Do I want my guests to leave saying  "Robyn has such a great house" or "I feel really cared for by her and her family!"

As I struggle through the the differences between entertaining and hospitality I had to make a list of things hospitality really is, and what is not.

#1 Hospitality is NOT about perfection.
Authentic Hospitality is also not always beautiful, let alone perfect.  Hospitality is not  about having the perfect center piece or perfectly clean house. Can a pinterest-inspired favor or being welcomed into a clean house make some feel cared for, sure it can!  Many people feel cared for when you make aesthetic preparation for them, but  I really have to check my motivation before endeavoring on this path; am I seeking to build my ego or really serve someone else? 

While thoughtful preparations can make someone feel loved, is this avenue to entertaining robbing YOU of joy?   If I am slipping into grumbling and not giving with a cheerful heart, maybe that is a red flag I have lost the point of hospitality.   

#2 Hospitality is NOT about your comfort, but about comfort of others
Meeting the needs of others is the first priority of hospitality , and sometimes that will make me feel uncomfortable. 

I really want to be the person who doesn't pause to invite a lonely friend or a new acquaintance to my house because my house is too small or in it's "natural" state of something on every surface.  Some people feel more comfortable in a house that does not look like it belongs in a magazine. 

On the flip side, my dirty laundry in the living room  WILL make some uncomfortable.  I love creating a calm environment for others, including my husband I, to be able to relax in.  Sometimes that means cleaning and reaping the fruit of that work. 
This is another one of those lines of balance to pray about. 

Pray about how to thoughtfully prepare your house to make others comfortable, without building your ego or wearing out your spirit?  

#3 Hospitality IS NOT about the size of your house
I am guilty as many others when it comes to wanting a bigger house to "entertain".   In my 900 square foot bungalow , I can not 'entertain' dozens of people comfortably (trust me, I have tried).  

A house big enough to have parties is NOT a bad thing, and in many cases it's a huge blessing to friends to have a place to meet. One of my closest friends opens her large home every week to our church small group.  Her kitchen allows us to eat a meal together and studying God's Word comfortable.

But if I am honest, for many years I wanted to be the host. Thankfully God has been working on me, and showing me how much I can show hospitality in this house.  It never looks like HGTV.

We had a season where my hospitality calling wasn't to pretty people sitting at my table,  but to snot covered kids who played on our small 2 swing playground. God put us here for such a time as this to provide a safe space of hospitality, a popsicle ministry.

When my boys were younger our house "hosted" half a dozen neighborhood kids for hours at a time. Most of these kids' parents have no idea where they are, and have never met me.  They come from our street, and sometimes several streets away, mostly because I always had water and popsicles.  I let them plan safely in my tiny backyard for hours because I would rather have them here destroying my hostas than wandering the neighborhood. 

Was it fun that my kids have playmates? Yes. It is comfortable to be the unpaid babysitter to kids who do not have the same boundaries and rules my kids do? No, it is definitely was not.  But that was where we were called.  

#4 Hospitality IS (sometimes) about food
One of my friend says, "Food talks!".  She is very right. Hospitality very often does include food (Thank you Lord for that).  When it does include food, the motivation for a shared meal is so that the person to feels loved and cared for. 

People in need of love/care/kindness will feel cared for when you prepare and share a meal with them, no matter the gourmet level of cooking. A desperate mom does not necessarily care what you make, but she will care you are allowing her to eat a meal that she doesn't have to cook or clean up afterward. The kids who gather at my house don't care that I buy the cheapest Popsicles, but that I share them. 

I love to cook for others, but that isn't true of everyone.  Does insecurity in your cooking abilities  keep you from trying to bless others?  Hosting friends for delivery pizza or Chinese take-out at your house can be just as (if not more) fun for that tired mom who needs a break ,or lonely single who needs a friend.  Again, it is not about you, it is about them.

#5 Hospitality IS about Imperfect People
While hospitality sometimes involves food, it always involves people. Imperfect people who won't always take off their shoes in your home.  People who take too big of a first portion when you haven't' eaten yet.  People who have awkward silences or are too loud.

Sometimes hospitality involves laughter and game night with a another set of friends, but what if it i harder than that?  What if the hospitality your are called to involves the kid who can be too rough with your kids' toys, but needs a caring adult in their life? What is it is the parents with too many kids who desperately need babysitting so they can have a date night? Maybe it is inviting over an older neighbor or family member who desperately lonely, but also very free with their differing political opinions? 

Jesus is our best example of hospitality over and over again. I LOVE that Jesus showed us over and over how much he loved by spending quality time with others.  Jesus liked food and wine, but he loved people.  He loved his devoted disciples, but also single people, married people, broken people, imperfect people.

Where is our focus this holiday season?  Are we focusing on us, the entertainer, and how good of a show we put on for guests?  Or are we focused on the the audience who need us to put aside our own egos and comfort to meet them where they are at? 

No comments:

Post a Comment