What is hospitality?

Photo by naama

When I first got married, I knew I wanted to be hospitable. I had grown up in an environment of true hospitality. It would be impossible to know how many people walked through my parents’ door during my childhood in France. It might have been a quick visit over a cup of coffee, a meal, a bed for a night, or extended guests. My parents’ home was always open to friends, acquaintances, or complete strangers. They have had fellowship over a meal with countless souls. I loved that growing up, and I wanted to carry that on in my own home.

I had a small view of hospitality, though. I thought that if I just had someone over for dinner, I was being hospitable. It was that idea that maybe if I did what they did [i.e. have company], I would be what they were [i.e. hospitable]. My husband and I would decide who to have over, look at the calendar, and set a date. You know, on that day we would be hospitable. If we had multiple guests in a month’s time, I considered myself extremely hospitable.

It is a wonderful thing to have guests in your home and something that I hope you do. We regularly have guests in our home and I consider that both an honor and a necessity for community. My view of hospitality, however, has changed. It has expanded.

I‘m learning that hospitality is:

  • Listening more than talking.
  • Caring more about the person that dropped by than the mess in the house.
  • Laughing with your guests. Or crying with them.
  • Listening to their heart. Sharing from your heart.
  • Being vulnerable. Having a safe environment for others to be vulnerable.
  • Being authentic.
  • Genuinely and deeply caring about people.
  • Asking more questions than answering.
  • Being genuinely interested in what interests others.
  • Having a guest leave feeling like they have taken a deep breath of fresh air when they are in your home.
  • Caring more about people than schedules.

Being hospitable is more than putting food on a table (though that is a big part). Hospitality is a disposition.

Generous. Loving. Caring. Selfless.

That is what I want my home to be. That is what I want to be.

I recently read A Meal With Jesus by Tim Chester that gave a helpful view of hospitality. You can read my short summary here.

What can you do this month to show hospitality to someone? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear!

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  1. Christi says:

    Hi! I found your blog from a comment you left at Blogging With Amy. :) I had a similar view of hospitality when I got married. It was all about planned visits to my home where I had lots of time to prepare and make everything look nice. Just like you, I am learning that it is so much more. Thanks for the encouragement.

  2. Elva Farrell says:

    Can I borrow your list to share with a ladies’ group? Great thoughts!!

  3. Sarah Beals says:

    One of my fav topics. You are right though. One is not hospitable for a day. It is a lifestyle. Great to see what you are learning! :)

  4. Donna says:

    I love this post as it is my passion as well! Can you tell we were reared by the same people?! :) One thing that concerns me with modern “hospitality” is that we think that everything has to be perfect and/or in a restaurant. The best hospitality is real and simple–sometimes even in the form of having someone help you out while you are hospitable to them. For example, someone recently had me over when she knew I was down, but asked me to come over and help out with Saturday evening baths for the kids and then supper. That was hospitality on her part, but also I was able to minister to her by helping out with the kids.

  5. Naomi says:

    I recently read several books on hospitality and was amazed at how my view of hospitality changed. I now know why people viewed my parents as so hospitable even when they didn’t have a perfect house, an elaborate meal, etc. My parents truly care about people. This post sums up so much of what I learned from all those books. Should have started here and saved time ;-) Thanks!

    • Johanna says:

      Yes, your parents definitely love people and that is what makes people want to be there! I have always loved that about them!

  6. Rachel says:

    What a great reminder that hospitality isn’t about perfection or presentation but simply being personable and caring towards others–in big or little ways! Thanks for this great post. (I really needed the reminder to be better about listening…. )

  7. Lynda Yarbrough says:

    Galatians 5:22-23

    New International Version (NIV)

    22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

    I am certain hospitality falls into these characteristics!! <3 Father, please help me to always show these characteristics in my life~

    • Johanna says:

      So true. These are great verses to apply to all areas of life. Thanks for bringing them to mind!

      • Lynda Yarbrough says:

        I love your blog~and it was just what I needed yesterday…As I was reading it, the fruits of the spirit came to my mind…so i looked them up and read them and realized if we bear those fruits we cannot help but be hospitable. For when we are bearing those kinds of fruits spiritually, people are drawn to us because they are seeking the company of Jesus, even if they do not know that is who they are seeking. And Jesus was always hospitable! Be blessed today! As you are a blessing to so many others!!

  8. Jen says:

    Thank you for this insight on hospitality. I love that entertaining is about who we are in Christ rather than all the “stuff” (china, gourmet meals, decorated house) the popular women’s magazines seem to portray. When Jesus entertained the 5,000 with loaves and fishes he clearly was motivated by love and compassion.

    • Johanna says:

      I agree. I think that often we get caught up in the doing and forget that it’s about people! Thanks for your thoughts!

  9. Aunt Karen says:

    Such a thoughtful commentary on hospitality. I feel fortunate to have experienced hospitality in your home on a few occasions. It is always wonderful to visit you and Brian and the children because your home is such a warm and welcoming place.

  10. Diana says:

    And by having that mentality, you can be hospitable at someone else’s home too–it doesn’t have to be your own! Thank you for reminding me of this! :)

    • Johanna says:

      Yes, so true! It’s all in our mindset and perspective. Thanks for bringing this up, though, as I’m sure others are in the same situation. :)

  11. Rachel says:

    Hi! I just came across this post, as I was looking for discussion prompts for a gathering of Outdoor Ministry professionals. We will be talking about ‘Extreme Hospitality” at our conference, and I’m wondering if I could use your list in our discussion about hospitality at our camps?

  12. Meg says:

    How clean does ones house have to be? How do you know its okay enough?
    Do you scamper around and try to vacuum, clean toilet, get things off the counter? Is there tension ? What are the standards of okay-ness ? Any ideas ?


  13. Meg says:

    Maybe this definition helps ? I thought it was pretty good.



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