God’s Call to Practice Hospitality

by Mary Clare Freel

The pattern of hospitality starts with leadership. Elders and deacons are servant leaders and pattern hospitality to the body they serve. They are given to the church for the very purpose of equipping the saints to minister in the body of Christ. See I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.

A word to elders’ wives: Much falls on you here. Your attitude towards hospitality is a key element in your husband’s success as an elder. A good deal of shepherding can take place in the context of your home.

But all believers are expected to practice hospitality. The rest of you are not off the hook. The congregation cannot leave hospitality in the hands of the elders. Some are gifted with hospitality, but we are all told to practice it. It is a way that our love for each other is acted out.

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Romans 12:9-13

Note, we cannot pick and choose how to love. We are responsible for all the commands above. Love is very practical — not a mushy feeling that fluctuates like the weather. None of these aspects are always easy, nor are they always convenient, but all are important.

As Christians, our homes belong to Christ, and we cannot have the mindset that, “This is all mine, and I don’t want any of it messed up.” We have been purchased by the blood of Christ, and all we have is provided by God to use for His glory — money, time, food, clothes and our homes. We are stewards and must use them wisely, but always with a loose grip.

If all this sounds foreign to you, and the idea of serving someone is repugnant to you, maybe it is time to search your own heart. Maybe you have never considered where you are in relationship to God. If you have not humbled yourself before Him in repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, that is the matter at hand for you. Your are not one of His servants. Either you are a slave to your own sin or you are a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no greater goal or higher purpose in all of life than knowing and serving the Lord Jesus Christ. To have a relationship with the Lord of the universe is what you were created for.

The home is a useful tool in the service of the King. Consider how to serve God with your homes. Pray and ask Him to show you opportunities and make you willing. Be ready to respond accordingly because opportunities will certainly come your way. They may come in the form of little children. I used to find myself grumbling about the neighborhood kids playing at our house so much. They are food vacuums and mess makers. Jesus reminds me in the gospels that to give a cup of water to a little child is a way of serving Him. It may not be children. It may be distressed souls. It may be a neighbor suffering in her marriage. It may be the elderly. It may be anyone.

Be proactive in hospitality; don’t just wait for the perfect opportunity. Invite people over. Volunteer to host church activities, depending on the room you have. Manage your home well so you are not thrown off by spur-of-the-moment guests. You don’t have to be a great housekeeper to be hospitable, but it sure helps to be organized. Keep your pantry stocked. Efficient cleaning routines are helpful. Involve your children.

Be sensitive to those who live in your home when considering hospitality (i.e., roommates, parents, your own family). In your zeal, don’t forget to be considerate of them. If you are unable to practice hospitality in your home, you can offer to help to host a fellowship dinner with a friend at her house. A heart of service is the key. God knows your heart and will honor your willingness to use what you have for His glory.

I hope you see from Scriptures that it is the responsibility and privilege of all in the body of Christ to share in the ministry of hospitality. In our next post we will discuss the various ways hospitality is used for the advancement of the kingdom of God.

Introduction to Hospitality

Mary Clare Freel is our guest blogger for this series. She is a pastor’s wife in Macon, GA, wife and mother of six, and occasional conference speaker. The series is excerpted from her retreat sessions on hospitality.

by Mary Clare Freel

Think with me for a moment about two little words. These two words may fill your heart with excitement or your mind with anxiety. They may stir up your creative juices or send you scurrying about the house in a cleaning frenzy. The sound of these words may cause your children to skip about the house in delight or have them running for cover. What are these words that elicit such a variety of emotions? Have you guessed? They are “Company’s coming!”. I must confess that I have experienced all of these emotions over the years. Have you?

Over the next three sessions we will delve into the subject of hospitality (not exhaustively). In the first session we will see what God says in His Word concerning hospitality and what He expects of His people. Secondly, we will explore various ways to demonstrate hospitality. In the final session, we will discuss practical ways to simplify hospitality, which will hopefully alleviate some of the apprehension of it.

I should tell you at the onset that my goal is to convince you that all believers are called upon to share in the ministry of hospitality. I hope that you will be persuaded, if you are not already, that it is not only for a gifted few in the church to carry the load. Neither is it only for those with large homes and big pocketbooks. No, it is incumbent upon all of those in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ to use their homes for His glory. I hope that you will share this view by the end of the time together if you do not presently do so.

So, there it is, out in the open! No hidden motives!

Furthermore, I hope to convince you that this calling is not a burden. This is not intended to weigh you down with guilt, but to free your mindset to see the delightful opportunities we have as children of God through our homes. This should not be an overwhelming endeavor. There are ways to make hospitality easy and painless.

FYI: Reading

Following is a collection of links that may be of interest to you related to our current topic. Note, listing does not imply endorsement. Please evaluate for your own situation.

How To — a variety of ways to read

Making a Habit — you want to read, but are you?

It’s Important — “There is a reason societies and civilizations throughout history have treasured the written word. It is art—beautiful and awe-inspiring for its own sake. It deserves our attention, our contemplation. Literature’s imaginative and creative power—the way it opens our eyes and sharpens our perceptions of the world—is highly valuable and unique.”

Bite-sized recommendations — 3 books with daily snippets

How to Make Time — encouragement with benefits and tips to make a habit

“Real” Books — why a paper copy of a book may be better

Reading Old Books — the value an older book has over a new release…and more encouragement to read

A Further Summary of Benefits — Reader’s Digest weighs in

Audio Books — how listening can redeem time — And Again

 

Reading

I am a bookworm. I LOVE books. They are a pleasure to read, touch, see, sort, collect, buy, smell. The only downside I’ve found is the risk of a paper cut, but that’s what a Kindle is for! Yes, I love e-readers, since they also unlock the treasure that is a book, but I will not digress further…

Bias aside, I will happily argue the benefits of reading and encourage you to read a book. Yes, it takes time, but consider the value of using some time this way.

Exercise Your Mind

The act of reading exercises your brain in a way that normal daily use does not. Absorbing the words on the pages takes mental effort — which is good! Focusing on a train of thought for page after page takes concentration that we rarely exercise anymore in the age of tweets and sound bites. As you read, you interact with the author’s thoughts and confirm or formulate your own. This time to think is priceless.

Open Your Mind

Very few of us are able to experience as much in person as we can peek into through a book. As Emily Dickinson said so well,

There is no Frigate like a Book  
To take us Lands away,  
Nor any Coursers like a Page  
Of prancing Poetry –   
This Traverse may the poorest take         
Without oppress of Toll –   
How frugal is the Chariot  
That bears a Human soul.

Help with Learning

You’d like to know how to better serve the nutritional needs of your family? There are books that delve into that topic and help you understand the science and benefits. Your good friend recently moved to Kenya? You can gain a better understanding of her new life by reading about the country and culture — through nonfiction and good fiction.

Reading also expands your vocabulary and boosts your writing skills. You may not be an author, but writing is a valuable tool at various points in our lives. Being able to wield it better will yield better results from that communication.

Promotes Good Health

There is promising research that reading helps with brain cell health, building up a reserve you may need in the future. Taking the time to read also helps reduce your stress level, and we are all familiar with the negative health effects of stress.

Provides for Social Interaction

Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, especially in a work of fiction or a biography, helps you see from another perspective. This helps you understand the people around you better; you gain empathy.

The more you read, the more you have to talk about. Small talk at your service! Your conversations will be richer, and you will have more to add.

Book clubs are also a great way to meet new friends, maintain relationships, and inject social time into your schedule. The fact that you read a book in the process is a bonus. If you have a good library system available, you can reap all these benefits for a minimal financial investment.

And More

There are more detailed benefits and plenty of research on the topic, but hopefully this is enough to get you thinking…and maybe even enough to get you to pick up a book. Enjoy it!

 

Meal Timelines

Do you ever get to the end of the afternoon and realize with a shock that dinner will be expected shortly and you have no idea what it will be? Well, it happens to all of us, but if it happens regularly, I’d recommend reading two previous blog posts, Planning Your Day and Meal Planning. This post will build on what we have already started discussing.

Planning ahead involves knowing how your day will go (roughly) and knowing what you plan to make for a meal, but you also need to know how the various steps for your chosen menu will fit into your schedule. When do you need to start preparing? Do you need to figure on 2 hours in the kitchen or 20 minutes?

Many recipes now include prep time and cook time, which is very helpful. But you still need to know what you’ll be doing when.


Note: if you use frozen meat for your meals, remember to add defrosting the meat to your steps or your schedule the day before or early the day of.


As you look at your menu, map out the different steps and when you’ll need to do each of them (i.e., 2 hours ahead, 45 minutes ahead, right before serving, etc.). Some recipes or dishes are simple enough that you only need 5 minutes of prep time 2 hours before dinner. Some have a few more steps. Others are all last minute, just before you eat. Write it down in a timeline, counting backwards from your target mealtime.


Note: if you collect tried-and-true recipes or standard menus for a monthly meal plan, this will be helpful to keep with the recipe. That way you don’t have to think it through each time.


For an example, using the menu outlined in A Simple Meal, you would sketch out a timeline like this:

  • 2 hours prior — prepare meat and put in oven
  • 45 minutes prior — prepare sweet potatoes and put in oven
  • 15 minutes prior — set table and steam vegetables

Now you know that you have less than 30 minutes needed for the meal, but also you don’t need to do anything between the 2 hour mark and the 45 minute mark. You can plan on 75 minutes to devote to other tasks.

Now you also know what you are doing and that your bases are covered. Way to plan!