If you’re an introvert, hospitality may not be one of your natural strengths.
Being hospitable is easy for my gregarious husband.
He loves being around people and is the life of the party wherever we go.
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I love being in my comfy pajama pants, on my couch, under an electric blanket eating Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop Popcorn.
But the Bible is pretty clear about being hospitable.
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 1 Peter 4:9
Even Dictionary.com is throwing shots.
Hospitality is the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.
There are many times I’ve begrudgingly had people over and grumbled the whole time as I was frantically cleaning the house and cooking.
But here’s the thing – even though hospitality is harder for introverts, it’s still just as good for our hearts.
Having people over to your home is when real relationships are built.
There’s only so much connection that can be made during Sunday school or before and after church.
It’s while we’re setting the table together that we learn that people HATE yellow Fiestaware and you have a silly inside joke for the rest of your life.
It’s over scrambled eggs and burned biscuits that you find out your friends are planning to propose to their girlfriends.
It’s during a dessert of store-bought cookies that you hear the heartbreaking infertility and divinely ordained adoption story of your new neighbors.
These things aren’t discussed casually while waiting for Sunday school to start or during the handshaking time of the worship service.
But they are the stories that bind us together so we can weather the storms of life with a tribe who knows us.
And Jesus modeled this throughout his ministry.
He was constantly eating with people even though he definitely didn’t need to.
Remember those 40 days he spent in the wilderness with no food or water? (Matthew 4:1-11)
He ate with tax collectors and prostitutes as well as with the most respected religious leaders of the time.
Jesus showed us how to actively love people and build relationships together and that was often done over meals.
And by having people over, we are showing our kids what hospitality is.
Because chances are if you’re an introvert, you will have at least one kid who will be an introvert and struggle with hospitality.
We will model how to sacrifice relaxation time with frantic speed cleaning, cooking for others, and stepping outside of our comfort zone.
And not only will we model it for our kids, but we also model it for our fellow believers.
Having people over for dinner or lunch is somewhat of a lost art.
In many churches we have attended, we’ve started a revival of sorts.
In some places, we attended for months and we’re never invited out to eat much less into someone’s home.
Seeing the community building opportunity of dining together, we slowly invited church members over.
Then we would get reciprocity invitations.
Then they would invite others from the church.
Then, there’s a whole slew of Christians opening their homes to one another and creating strong bonds of fellowship.
So now that we’ve discussed how important hospitality is, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of how you actually behave hospitably when the idea of people in your home makes you break out in a cold sweat.
1. Start Small
Invite one family over for a meal.
Don’t start with a dinner party.
If you want to lower the stakes even more, invite a family that doesn’t have kids.
This can be a young married couple or an older couple with an empty nest. Some of our best friends when we were in our twenties and Chip was in seminary were the senior adults in our church.
They loved coming to our home and we loved going to theirs.
Their wisdom and friendliness were absolutely awesome, especially during a time in life that we were far away from family.
2. Plan For It
Nowadays, my husband (or my kids!) will invite people over for lunch after church WHILE we are at church.
I’ve made it a habit to cook food that’s ready quickly and feeds at least ten, so it’s not a big deal, now.
But in the beginning, I would have melted into a puddle if they’d done that to me.
So plan to invite someone over with a week (or two!) notice.
Ask them at church if they have plans for lunch after church next week.
Plan a meal that you’re good at already or grab a Stouffer’s lasagna. They’re delicious and everyone loves them.
If your guests offer to bring something, let them. We usually ask people to bring drinks or dessert because those are easy to make and transport.
By planning early, you’ll have the chance to clean your house without frantically spraying Febreze and hiding things in the cabinets while they’re knocking at the door. (Yes, I’ve actually done this.)
If you’re not sure what to cook, check out our post of Ten Quick and Frugal Sunday Lunch Ideas.
3. Remember Your Purpose
You are having people over to fellowship, mentor, strengthen bonds, get to know people, etc.
You aren’t inviting them over to view your home.
You aren’t a real estate agent showing a piece of property.
One time, I moved three laundry baskets of clean clothes that I fully intended to fold one day but hadn’t gotten to yet, into the bedroom and out of our living room.
My husband went and got them and put them back on the fireplace hearth.
I was MAD.
He told me that it was okay that the house wasn’t perfect, but I felt like showing the unfolded laundry made me look like a bad housekeeper.
Thus ensued a heated discussion of how I wasn’t a housekeeper or homemaker.
He won the
argument discussion, and we left the laundry front and center in our living room.
Over lunch, the wife confided that she was really glad to see we had unfolded laundry.
She talked about how inadequate she felt because she couldn’t keep up with laundry and how much better it made her feel that we were the same.
She said that she expected our house to be perfect because we always looked so perfect in church.
This broke my heart.
I try my best to be real without being a hot mess, and my own insecurities almost cost us a genuine connection.
Laundry on the hearth opened up the door for an amazing conversation with a couple in our church who came to be some of our best friends.
When they left, they insisted on having us over the next Sunday. When we got there, she had laundry out on her hearth, and we joked about it.
Don’t take this an invitation to leave toothpaste in the sink and crumbs all over the floor, but don’t make the focus about perfection.
You are getting to know people, and they need to get to know you too.
If you’re so busy hiding everything, you might hide something that makes a real connection.
In conclusion, I know that it’s tough to have people over when you’re an introvert.
Even after 15 years of ministry together, I still get a little stressed about having people over.
But the relationships we’ve built and the lives we’ve been able to ministry to, have made that stress worth it.
How do you handle hospitality? Are you an introvert or extrovert? Are there any ways you can improve in your hospitality? Tell us in the comments!