I have nightmares of Martha Stewart—not nightmares that come in the dark but those that chase me in broad daylight when I prepare for guests. Do you also feel intimidated by Martha, chefs on the Food Network, and decorators on HGTV? I don’t have their gifts, creativity, or training. Clearly, God didn’t design me to be a chef or a decorator.
So, can I just wait for others to invite me to their homes?
I don’t think so. God calls us to hospitality (Heb. 13:2; 1 Pet. 4:9). In fact, it is a requirement for elders (1 Tim. 3:2). Although the scriptures were written in another culture, opening our homes still values our guests in a unique way and a private space provides opportunities for meaningful conversations.
Martha of Bethany must have been the Martha Stewart of her day. Jesus chided her for being distracted by many preparations and for neglecting the most important need—time with her Guest of Honor (Luke 10:41-42).
So how can you make hospitality simple if you aren’t a Martha?
• Remember that your time and attention is more valuable than elaborate preparations.
• Find a meal or two to become your specialties—easy, simple dishes that can primarily be prepared in advance.
• Go trouble-free on the table, using a plain vase of flowers or scattering candles or candy. Set the table days in advance so that you can focus on your last-minute preparations.
• Find a time that works best for you. We have settled on Sunday nights as a laid-back evening for company. In keeping with the idea of Sabbath as a day to celebrate God’s good gifts, we enjoy working together to prepare and cook the meal.
• Use pre-packaged foods as needed, and don’t feel the need to apologize because cooking isn’t your thing. God didn’t design you that way, but he does intend you to love on people.
• Your home doesn’t have to be perfect. Don’t wait for your kids to grow up because even then your house may not be a showcase. For years I fretted over my outdated furniture and my small space, but God reminded me that he is the one who had given us this home, intending us to use it for his kingdom. It wasn’t about me.
• Finally, enjoy yourself! Ask questions of your guests. Learn about their heritage and life stories. A meal in your home is the best atmosphere to build friendships. Value your guests by giving them your full attention and simply enjoying your time together.
Whom will you host this month? What are your tips for making hospitality simple?