RHG Magazine & TV Guide Spring 2019 - Page 58

What comes to your mind when you think about the word hospitality? Is it Pinterest-perfect dinner parties? Do you think of yourself as a hospitable person?

Have you ever tried to Google the word “hospitality?” Yeah. Me neither. Until I was preparing to teach a group of young moms on the subject some time ago.

Do you want to know what I found? When you Google hospitality, the search brings up entry after entry about hotel and restaurant management. In the first five pages of my Google search, I only found two blog articles about hospitality as a way of life – and one of them was really about DIY home decorating even though hospitality was in the title.

Does that feel a little “off” to you like it does to me? Like maybe we’ve abdicated and left hospitality to a bunch of corporations? Like it’s an industry? Instead of a disposition of warmth and openness and invitation. I like a good restaurant as much as anyone. Good food and good service are a delight. But, in the end, I realize that the hostess is doing a job. Even if she’s super sweet and genuine. More often than not, she doesn’t actually want to know “how are you today?” She’s probably asked 50 other people the same question and she actually can’t take the time to listen to a real answer because someone else just walked in the door behind me and she needs to seat them too. I’m not mad at her for this. It’s just the way of it. There’s a long wait afterall. What can she do?

That’s a lot different than being welcomed into a home and seeing that your host has

prepared something special just for you. A candle is lit and delightful scents are wafting from her small kitchen. A cat pads by and you hear her husband yell in from out back by the grill. She’s made it a fun meal – homemade pizzas on the grill – so that everyone can talk and relax as they put their pizza together. Even your kids are able to settle into comfortable conversation. As you round the bend in the counter to add your mozzarella, you see her huge stash of tea.

“Oh, you love tea too? Where do you find loose tea? I can’t find it anywhere.” “Oh, let me make you a cup. Here, pick one that sounds good.” And, so it begins. The invitation to dinner has become an invitation in. Something as simple as cans of tea on a shelf has connected two hearts.

Can’t you just feel the difference? I’m glad there are good hotels and restaurants in the world. I really am. I just think we should bring hospitality back home a bit more. Where the invitation is not a duty of the job; but a delight of the heart.

Usually when we talk about hospitality we assume a home-orientation. And while it’s true that most hospitality is lived out in the home, it is actually more broad than that. We saw that on Sunday when we talked about my son, Caleb, and the way he reaches out to his friends. More importantly, we see it in Jesus – the model of hospitality.

So, what is it exactly that makes someone hospitable? We have said it’s not their stuff. Or even a well-cooked meal. Now we’re saying it’s not even about their home. So, what are we saying?

The dictionary defines it this way:

Hospitality Defined

Honestly, I don’t think that quite gets to it. I like that it includes visitors and strangers. Because I do think hospitality is about more than hanging out with our buddies. But, I think it misses something that only the synonyms start to get at a little bit.

Remember when I said that hospitality is, at its root, an invitation? I really meant it. It’s an openness and warmth. A spirit of welcome, if you will. It’s a heart that is always looking outward – an others-centeredness that asks, “how can I make the people around me feel more at-ease and loved on?” It’s a warm smile and an offer to help when that young mom’s toddler knocks the display over in the grocery store. It’s making a little more room on the bleachers to accommodate the newbie mom at your boys’ football game. It’s noticing the new, quieter couple who isn’t certain where the children’s wing is located at church on Sunday morning. It’s arriving early to get a table when you’re meeting a friend for lunch. It’s telling a self-deprecating story for the sole purpose of setting that socially awkward person at ease. It’s opening your office door and having a bowl of candy on your desk. It’s letting the guy with two items go in front of your full cart even though you were in line first.

Don’t confuse it with random acts of kindness or the pay it forward thing. It’s sort of like that but it’s more than that. It’s not one action but a whole way of life. An orientation. Toward inviting people in. Because, let’s be honest, you can do something nice for someone but sort of secretly hope they don’t really talk to you or require much of your time. Hospitality doesn’t do that. Hospitality says, “sure, come on in.”

When you have that kind of orientation, you can take it anywhere with you.

In fact, our Lord did it all the time. He had no home of His own. But, we see Him taking care of people everywhere He went. Welcoming children into His lap even when the disciples said He was too busy. Feeding 5,000 listeners even though He really just wanted some alone time. Calming the storms when His buddies were going all drama on Him. Restoring leprous skin for the untouchable. Drawing more than water from the well – but using it as a chance to engage with a broken outcast. Explaining the meaning behind hard teachings. Removing religious burden and duty.

He had an others-centered orientation. A spirit of welcome and invitation. In fact, what was that one thing He always used to say? Oh yeah, I’ll never forget it. Never. Not since He whispered it to me all those years ago. Come.

He was always inviting people to come. Inviting them in.

And the most hospitable invitation of all:

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me for I am gentle and humble in heart and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.”

Have you found rest for your soul?

If not, maybe you should accept Jesus’ invitation. You can hear more about it here. (Yeah, it’s a door. In field. Just watch it.)

If so, how are you at creating space for other people in your life to find rest? It’s likely the most hospitable thing you’ll ever do.

Thrive as You Create a Spirit of Welcome

RHG Magazine & TV Guide TM - Spring 2019 © All rights reserved.