Home is for Hospitality

I heaved a heavy sigh.

A quick glance around the living room showed that children had been here.

Books stacked haphazardly on the shelves and side table, papers peeping from under the couch, toys strewn – life had here been lived.

A move into the kitchen didn’t help.



Smears on the fridge and stovetop.

So much to do. And it’s not just that it needed to be done.

The real discouragement was that even if I did do it, it’d all return to this state again within 24 hours.

You know why?

We actually live in this house – all 7 of us – all day every day.

That’s why the house would return to a used state so quickly. But why was that discouraging?

My goals were discouraging me, not the state of the house.

Change the goal to hospitality.

I wanted to cry, or stamp my foot, or vent in a nagging rampage that day because my goals were being frustrated. Therefore, I was frustrated.

I was working toward something, and my work was undone at every turn.

What was my work?

I was working to have a clean house. I wanted shelves to be tidy, floors to be shiny, counters to be clear. My goal was an end state that I could never attain.

My goal needed to change.

I wanted a clean home so that my home would reflect well on me, so that I could relax and not see more work, so that I could enjoy the finished product I had achieved.

My goal was self-centered. It was good of God to keep it frustrated, because flattered pride gets even uglier than frustrated pride.

I had to lose the pride, not the work. I had to change the goal to be about others and not about myself.

Only when I took the role of a servant rather than as a dictatorial lord could I begin to see satisfaction and fulfillment in the work in front of me rather than continual failing.

Hospitality is the purpose of the home.

Pursue hospitality. It’s a command. It’s a duty. But it doesn’t mean that we all need to be having people over for dinner every week.

Well, except for our people – we feed them every day, every week – three times a day, even. That’s hospitality, too.

The goal of hospitality means that we see our homes as tools in the formation of people, not as trophies to be kept beautiful.

As G.K. Chesterton reminds us:

The business done in the home is nothing less than the shaping of the body and soul of humanity.

As homemakers, we’re making hospitable homes, homes that shape the bodies and souls of humanity.

Those souls’ bodies might have been shaped in our wombs or not. Those bodies might sleep between sheets we wash or not. But our goal is that all the bodies and souls under our roof for years or for hours be shaped for good by the time spent in our homes.

That’s our business.

Our home is for the service of building up people.

Our home is for the service of building up people, for hospitality

If those people make a mess – a physical mess, an emotional mess, any mess – it’s not frustrating our goal or ruining our home. It’s giving us the opportunity to use our home for its vey purpose: mending, serving, building.

Hospitality isn’t something we do once the house is clean and we have everything together. Hospitality is loving others in and with our homes; and love is the whole point.

Hospitality is building up people, and that’s our mission, whether we started from the moment of their birth or we only just learned their name.

Let all things be done for building up. – I Corinthians 14:26

With hospitality as a goal instead of a garnish and our homes as tools instead of trophies, we can see the evidences of people being built up in our homes as successes rather than frustrations.

Yes, it means more work, but that’s what we’re put here for. The work is good.

Let’s dig in.

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  1. This post is one of the reasons I was drawn to you! (Does that sound stalker-ish??) I absolutely love this perspective and completely agree! (Even though it can be really hard!)

    “The work is good.” Amen, sister.

  2. I’m reading this today of all days as my in-laws are coming to stay for 3 weeks and I”m frantically cleaning. No more! The house is tidy and ready for them to visit. But most of all ready to welcome the grandparents to spend time with their grandkids. There will be messes because we LIVE here. Grandma and Grandpa will have to learn to deal with it in love also. Love this post!

  3. If I remember nothing else from this whirlwind of a week, I’ll remember this post.

    “My goal was an end state that I could never attain. My goal needed to change.” Wham! This hit me hard!

  4. “My goal was self-centered. It was good of God to keep it frustrated, because flattered pride gets even uglier than frustrated pride.”-YES! This makes so much sense to me. Beautifully spoken.

  5. So needed to hear this. I struggle mightily with a type A personality and desire for things to be “just so.” Trying to work on that has sometimes propelled me the other direction, and I’m still searching for the balance. Seeing our homes this way is a wonderful way to find that balance!

  6. So good. My father-in-law has been reading to our church over our fellowship meal each week a section from Alexander Strauch’s book The Hospitality Commands. We’re about done with it. I missed one week due to kids’ sickness, but my husband went. Later that week I had a little hissy fit because of some experiences in which several days of activity and hospitality left me feeling beyond exhausted and trampled upon by our guests. My husband quietly shared 1 Peter 4:9 with me: Be hospitable to one another without complaint.
    I had a million little complaints. I had to eat my pride, but it was so hard. Your article here hits on a huge part of it for me. Our goals and ideals have so much to do with how we respond to the broken pot, the used-up expensive coffee, the lack of recharge time because people have invaded my space. But like you said, that’s what I’m here for, that’s what the coffee’s for, and who really cares about a pot anyway? ;-)

  7. 1 Corinthians chapter 4 only goes up to verse 21. Do you know where in the Bible it says that??

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