Hospitality and Christmas seem to go hand in hand. Sometimes the negative aspects of what passes for hospitality lead us to difficult and stressful places…especially during this season.
When thinking about hospitality vs. entertainment it is important to think about what your motivation is. Are you trying to impress people? Have you gotten yourself tied up in knots in the planning? Your plans may or may not go smoothly. Your style may be casual or formal…or somewhere in between. But is your motive is to impress? To the degree these are your motives, you are entertaining.
Are you trying to serve and make your guests comfortable? To give them time to be refreshed, relaxed and have a little fun and redemptive conversation? To the degree that is your motive, you are being hospitable. The look of your occasion may be very similar, but your attitude will be very different when things don’t go the way you planned.
Realistically, there is a mix in our motives. They aren’t pure. ever. But when things start to crash at our “event” (big or small), our motives are clarified quickly! Sometimes we see growth that GOD is bringing in our motives, but this side of heaven, we won’t have pure motives.
That flash of anger or blame at the person who let us down. The disgust at ourselves for forgetting to check the oven a few minutes earlier when the food would have been perfect. The seething resentment at our spouse for not helping us more or helping better…or letting us down when asked for help. All those show that we are trying to impress. We want to show a perfect event or meal or family.
If we can set all that aside and just be who we are and allow our family to be themselves…the not always polite children who sometimes reach out warmly to people without the polite words. The spouse who respects people for who they are even if he doesn’t notice that you need help at a given moment. GOD will even help you in your many moments of being too critical of some areas of your family and not sensitive enough to the needs of those who are visiting in your home.
Through the laughter, food, relaxation and even the intimacy that comes from visiting in your home, these people will find a place of comfort and warmth. Maybe even a place of love. That is what hospitality is all about.
How to serve others without wearing yourself out totally
It is helpful to remember that there are other ways to enjoy hospitality without having to do all the work yourself. During a busy time of year, sometimes meeting at a coffee shop or other shop, for coffee or a fun latte still allows you to have time to visit without it taking a long time for a meal. The cost is low but the visit quotient can be quite high in terms of quality time to catch up with a friend or two.
The important thing to remember is to make sure to make time to spend with people you love during this season when there are some breaks and pauses, at least in some jobs, and definitely in school and college schedules.
Make time to connect. Have people in your home. Don’t make it complicated. Keep it nice and simple. Know what works best for your style.
- Is it serving some hot hor doerves and letting people mix around with simple music in the background?
- Or having each person bring part of the meal to share and sit around the table to visit?
- Or having you fix the meal or buffet and serving a bunch of friends?
- Or eating at different times of day like a brunch, lunch, breakfast?
Whatever your style, enjoy it. Don’t worry about what others think. Celebrate your style within your personal limitations…whether space, financial, or simply stamina.
Don’t stress over the cleanness of your house. Of course, you will want it to look cleanish and have some order to it. You won’t want cobwebs hanging from the ceilings or lamps probably. You will want the bathrooms to be clean. But once those things and a vacuuming have been done, you should be good to go. Tours of the house aren’t required and doors to rooms that are messed up can always be closed! You won’t have to be all OCD about the house. Are there people who will notice that every spot isn’t clean?
There may be a one or two, but are you trying to please them…or worse, are you trying to get all stressed to please them? It isn’t worth it! You want to enjoy your party or meal and have enough energy in reserve to host it. You are here to minister to people, not impress them!
For the most part, when people come to your home, they want to visit and enjoy the people there. You want the house to be clean enough so the dirt isn’t distracting but not so clean that you are worn out from the scrubbing!
As you think about your hospitality this Christmas, think about some of these questions:
Are there people I know who will be alone this Christmas (or other holiday season) that I could invite to spend time with our family?
(examples: foreign students, widow(er)s, single parent families, divorcees, etc.)
Do I have neighbors I can show hospitality to?
Are there people from work that need to be shown the love of Christ in the form of your family’s hospitality?
Are there people from church or any other place, that I don’t know very well and I would like to get to know better?
- Writing these questions has been challenging for me, to tell the truth. I have some new goals for the New Year!