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The Importance of Hospitality

How long has it been since you invited someone to your home or since you went to a friend’s house?  In our busy lives, we often overlook the importance of hospitality.  We rush to here and there, we always have somewhere to be and it’s hard to find time to slow down to invite that other couple over for dinner, or that friend to come over just for a chat. 

We have good intentions, but the importance of hospitality seems to take a back seat to all the other things we have going on in our lives.  It’s that thing that we mean to do, but never seem to get around to. I have a really touching story of how remembering the importance of hospitality recently impacted my life, but first, let’s take a look at what hospitality is, and isn’t as well as a few tips to start practicing it in your own life!

What is Hospitality in Simple Words?

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Simply put, hospitality is the art of making someone feel welcome in your home.   It’s a way of showing love.  When you invite someone into your home, whether it be just to visit, spend the night, for a meal, or for however long a time, you are inviting them into what is usually a private part of your life.  It says that you want to get to know them better, you want them to feel comfortable, and it’s a great way to  spend quality time with them. 

Being more hospitable was one of my intentions for the year, which was hard in 2020, but the more I practice it, the easier it becomes, the more I enjoy it, and the better I get.

What are the Benefits of Hospitality?

If you are thinking that all this sounds like a big pain, I want to point out not only the importance of hospitality but some benefits of hospitality as well. Here are 12 benefits of hospitality.  Can you come up with more?

1. It helps you build better relationships with people. 

If you ask someone in your home, it’s a great way to start building a positive relationship with them.

2. Helps you see a different perspective

People are wondrously different. Everyone has their own flavor to how they see the world. By practicing hospitality, you may start to enlarge your own opinions and way of thinking.

3. Reminds you of what you have to offer

Sometimes we forget the things that we have to offer. For example, my house is relatively tiny, but when I had a friend over, they marveled at how spacious my yard is.

4. Helps build your support network

When you invite people over, and you start cultivating relationships and friendships, it does build your support network. It also gives your friend helpful information that they might need to support you. Your friends can’t secretly drop off a care package on your porch if they don’t know where you live.

5. It’s a way to show love

Nothing shows your love for others like spending quality time, and welcoming them into your home

6.Provides a way for you to set a good example

Not everyone has good role models. By being hospitable and inviting people into your home, you have a fantastic opportunity to set a good example for people that would not otherwise see it. This is for everyone, but I think it’s especially important for kids and teens.

At our house, we have family style suppers around the table. We pray before we eat. Some kids have never seen that before or experienced that kind of a meal in the home.

7. Lets others know they are important

There is nothing to make someone feel important than an invite over to your house. It says “You are important enough that I want to spend quality time with you. I want to get to know you better and I think you’re fun to be around.”

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8. Keeps us feeling connected

I know we live in a world of social media, but if the pandemic of 2020 has shown us anything, it’s the value of keeping connected with each other. Social media is not a substitute for face to face interaction.

9. Makes us happier

When we feel connected and supported, it makes us happier as well.

10. Gives us something to look forward to

When we invite someone over to our home and they accept the invitation, I always look forward to them coming. I know we are going to have a great time visiting with one another.

11. Good incentive to clean your house

To be clear: you do NOT have to have a clean house to invite someone over. When I go over to someone’s house, I am not the house inspector. I am going to see them and spend time with them. However, it does make me feel good to present a clean house if I can when I know we will be having guests. This is great incentive because there’s a deadline of when you need it done by and consequences if you don’t make it.

12. Offers us a chance to help when someone is in need

When we are going through hard times (and it happens to all of us) we do not always put it on social media.  Social media, in general, shows the best parts of a person’s life.  It pulls out all the good snapshots.  If someone is in need, they will be much more likely to tell you about it (which gives you a chance to help) if the conversation is in person.  This reason also shows the importance of hospitality. 

What is Hospitable Behavior?

Now that we have looked at some of the benefits and importance of hospitality, how does one actually behave hospitably?

According to the Journal of Hotel and Business Management, “Hospitable behavior is characterized by a positive orientation towards guests, enthusiasm, positive energy, and the willingness to recognize and meet a guest’s implicit needs.” 

We can certainly take that advice and apply it to our own home.

  • Invite someone over
  • Welcome them in
  • Ask them if they want something to drink
  • Talk to them, listen, and show genuine interest
  • If there is a meal and they offer to help prepare it, let them help.  No one wants to feel like a burden.
  • If they ask “What can I bring?” take advantage of it!
  • Think warm, welcome, and friendly

7 Easy Tips to Make Guests Feel More Welcome

Ruth at The Better Mom has some great tips for how to make guests feel more welcome.  Here are some of hers mixed with some of my own.

1. Don’t worry if your home is not spotless

I know, I said having guests over is good motivation to clean (and it is) but the state of your house should not be a make it or break it thing.  When I was on the visiting end and I saw other people’s houses not perfectly clean, it made me feel better that my own is not always spotless.

2. Don’t apologize for the state of your house

I have done this a LOT!  Your guests are not house inspectors.  They are coming to see you, not your house.  Likewise, your focus should be on spending quality time with your guests.

3.Easy meals are ok

I once went to a friend’s house that I had not seen in years and she served sandwiches.  It was wonderful.  They were some of the best sandwiches I have ever eaten because they came with a side of laughter, fellowship, and catching up on not seeing one another in years. 

4. Ask your guests to help

Most people do not want to be an inconvenience or impose upon you.  If you need help doing dishes or preparing food, ask!  At our family Thanksgiving meal, we all bring things.  It makes it much easier on the host and it makes us feel welcome and like and important part of the dinner.                

5. Listen with the intent to understand

One of the best things about hospitality is it gives us a chance to get to know others better.  Listen to what they have to say.  Try to understand their point of view and get to know who they really are. 

6. Focus on being fully present

If there is something you are needing to do, remember that it can wait.  Focus on being fully present with your guests and set aside distractions.

7. Plan if you can, but don’t be scared to wing it

It’s really nice if you can plan things out ahead of time (I tend to be more of a planner) but if you want to invite someone over on the spur of the moment, don’t be scared to do it because you don’t have everything all planned out.  (Read the Wilderness March with Babies story below!)

Importance of Hospitality: How it Impacts Our Lives

The importance of hospitality may not be all that apparent to you at first, especially if it’s not something you grew up with.  It may even seem a little awkward or like a bit of a bother. 

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One of my goals for this year was to be more hospitable in my own life.  Current circumstances have certainly impacted that, but I am finding that the more I practice hospitality, the better I become.  I also am finding that with it becoming easier to welcome people into my home, it builds up my confidence and makes it more enjoyable to host people as well. 

With all the benefits I posted above, also comes making great memories.  To me, that’s one of the most important things about hospitality.  I want to look back and think that I’ve made a positive impact on the world, and helped other people along the way. I want to be remembered as someone that was warm and welcoming.  Don’t you?

Why is Hospitality Important in Life?

People skills are some of the most valuable skills that we can have.   You may have all the technical knowledge in the world, but if you are a jerk that can’t relate to anyone you probably won’t make it very far.  Hospitality cultivates our people skills.  When we have people in our homes, it sets aside time just for them.  It’s time that you set aside to visit and chat with your friends and have a good, clean, fun time that lives on in your memories years after the event has passed. 

Real Examples of the Importance of Hospitality

Still not convinced of the importance of hospitality?  Let me share a few recent experiences that drove it home for me.  These are real examples, with some of my friends that set a beautiful example for me.

Importance of Hospitality Example #1: Church, Broken Toilets, and Mexican Food

We went to church with some friends of ours recently.  They had been out of town and had gotten back the night before.  They have 3 small kids and one on the way.  It would have been much easier for them to not invite us over, as I’m sure they were tired and they had left their house in a rush that morning to get to church.  But they invited us anyway.  They really wanted us to come! 

So we did.  We sat and talked for hours.  We learned more about each other and our kids ran and played together.  She talked highly of my writing.  I admired her skill for home decorating.  (She is truly amazing at it!)

I treasure this beautiful sign she hand made for me.

Drawing closer over different skill sets

While we were talking, it came up that they had come back home from their trip to discover that one of their toilets was not working.   Luckily, my husband has fixed many of them, and he was quick to roll up his sleeves and lend a hand.   Her husband was much relieved, as that was not in his skill set and they were about to have to call an expensive plumber.   We ended up concluding the evening by going out to eat at a (very good) Mexican food place.   

Through our visit these casual friends became close friends for which we had prayed for a long time.  They kept telling us that we set a good example in many things, but to us, they were the ones setting a good example of how to welcome someone into their home. 

I will forever cherish memories of that visit, which will lead to many more.  I think they will be lifelong and once in a lifetime friends. 

Importance of Hospitality Example #2: Wilderness March With Babies    

This story started with a text that read “Hey! Do you guys want to go camping this weekend?”  Camping plans soon scaled back to a (freezing!) picnic lunch and a hike due to the weather and campsite availability. Though we knew this couple from church, this was the first time that we had done anything fun with them. 

“I’m good for a mile or two,”  her husband said.  So, naturally, we ended up on the longest trail at the park – 4.5 miles. 

“We’re probably just going to go a little ways down this one and turn around,” I thought to myself.  They did, after all, have two little girls that were ages 4 and 2.  Little legs can’t hike all that long.

Not a bad start….

We settled in a comfortable walk.  My big boys were leading the way, followed by the 4 year old, who thought she was just as big as them.  The men next, who soon got deeply involved in discussion, and us women in the back meandering along as her two year old toddled and tried to gain confidence on the uneven ground. 

We talked about everything under the sun, and in many ways, she’s quite different than I am.  Trendy, cool, and different opinions on some mommy topics.  Yet, she invited us over to their house afterward.

We passed the point that I thought we were going to turn around at.  The 2 year old got tired, and her Dad had to carry her on his shoulders.  Then, she fell asleep on his head – with his neck at an awkward angle for 30 minutes.

Bearing one another’s burdens and babies…

Those last 2.5 miles we trudged.  The smaller girls ended up carried again and passed around to make the load easier to bear.  We didn’t care about anything except for seeing our vehicles.  By that time, it was 4 hours after we started, and my watch was registering 5.5 miles.  It was the longest hike any of us had ever done.  

The men had aching necks from carrying toddlers.  Even my big boys were tired.  Still, she turned to me and asked again after we had the brilliant idea to go down the longest trail in the park “So y’all still want to come over?” 

They still invited us…

After 4 hours of talking and trudging, they still wanted to spend time with us.  They wanted to share their home with us.  We said yes.  After picking up food on the way from a very trendy sandwich shop, we settled with hot tea and husbands on their couch. 

We found out that we were alike in all the deeper views that mattered.  We never would have known that, had she not opened their home to us and shown a beautiful example of hospitality. 

The Last Thing You Need to Know About the Importance of Hospitality

My friend, I may be the one writing about the benefits and importance of hospitality, but the families in the above stories are the ones that have been my teachers.  I wish that you could also experience what I did, of being invited and enthusiastically welcomed into someone’s home.  It is a feeling like none other.  It’s a beautiful picture of God’s love, and how we are supposed to love one another.  Both times in the stories above, the houses were not picture-perfect, but that did not stop us from having a good time and making memories that will forever live in my heart. 

What is the importance of hospitality to you?  Do you have any hospitality stories that have left you with a lasting warm fuzzy feeling in your heart?  I’d love to hear about it! Leave me a comment below.

References:

https://www.people-results.com/4-benefits-to-being-hospitable/

https://www.hospitablehomemaker.com/reasons-hospitable/

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