The theme that ran throughout my day today was hospitality—what it is and what it needn’t be.
I started the morning with one of my sweet mentees coming to my house for our monthly get together. I did not clean because that is against my doctor’s orders. I picked up a little, made coffee, and warmed up a mini loaf of banana bread from the freezer. A couple of pumpkin candles were lit and the scene is set for good conversation.
Later in the day I had two different conversations with women about what sets the scene for relationships to grow without stressing over details that don’t matter.
What details help others be comfortable? What details need to be attended to in order for people to relax and get to know each other? What details stress the hostess so she is not able to enjoy her guests or help them feel comfortable?
I don’t think there are firm rules about what needs to be done or what adds to the stress.
I think the answers can be found in the answers to these questions:
- What food and beverages will refresh the guests? They don’t need to be homemade, but tasty.
- Are the parts of your house your guests will be in as clean as you would feel comfortable with in someone else’s home? Even if you have pets, do feel comfortable with other’s pet’s hairs on the furniture?
- Are you comfortable and focused on your guests or are you distracted by “catering” details? Your guests came to be with you; be with them.
- The above question is the reason I make everything as self-serve as possible. Are the beverages easy for your guests to get for themselves? The same for snacks. If you are serving a meal, prepare as much ahead as you can. If someone offers to bring something, let them! I usually ask for someone to bring a fruit salad or lettuce salad—two things that are time-consuming to prep, but so good.
- What have you experienced in other people’s homes that made you uncomfortable? Answer this not in a critical way, but as a means of seeing your home through the eyes of your guests.
- I think the main question to answer is, “Would I be comfortable in my home if I were the guest?”
- One last question–What is my motive? Is it for my guests to have fun and feel loved? Or is it to impress others or at least so they won’t think poorly of us? Let go of any perfection tendencies. They suffocate the purpose of getting together.
Many, many years ago when we moved into our home–our unfinished home. My dad and Gene built the house so they worked on it after they worked their regular jobs. I waited for months to have anyone over because the house was not finished. Finally I grew tired of keeping my life on hold. I started inviting people over. The house wasn’t finished but I made it look as nice as I could. And you know what? No one seemed to care. I remember one lunch here where the women were snuggly fitted around our little kitchen table. We laughed, talked and ate and no mention was made of the parts of the house still unfinished. Hospitality is not about getting all the details just so.
The main point of hospitality, whether in our home, church, workplace, or anywhere we are with others, is to make the way for relationship. To do that people need to feel comfortable. Food, beverage, and the atmosphere draw people together. But more than those ingredients, our smile, friendliness, and genuine interest in others will make the fertile ground for relationships.
Brenda Garrison is an author and speaker who empowers women with the confidence to live their calling. Brenda is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ministry Leadership with a Concentration in Women’s Ministry at Moody Bible Institute. She and her husband, Gene, are the parents of three young adult daughters and live near Metamora, IL.