My friend Lynn Brown is one of most hospitable women I know. She entertains frequently, hosts Bible studies in her home, and is always inviting someone over for a snack. Her motto is “have a cookie, make a friend.” She and her husband often open their home to young women who need special nurturing. I’ve seen so many lives transformed through Lynn’s ministry of hospitality.
But it almost didn’t happen.
In fact, when I first met Lynn she was totally intimidated by the very idea of hospitality. Lynn knew I loved cooking, hosting dinners and having people over to our home. She couldn’t imagine herself doing anything remotely like that. The bottom line she didn’t like to cook, she didn’t know how to cook and she quite simply she saw no reason why she should. She was a wife mother and worked at a demanding job often requiring her to travel. So she just assumed she was disqualified from hospitality. It just wasn’t her.
But a turning point for Lynn happened when I was having a particularly bad day. My husband was out of town. My four little kids were underfoot. And I’d spent the entire morning trying to clean up from a major flood that happened in our home. I was a wreck—no makeup, dirty clothes, hair pulled back haphazardly. And I happened to run into Lynn in the alleyway between our houses.
In that moment, Lynn’s truly hospitable heart managed to reach past her insecurities to see my need. She took one look at me and said, “Why don’t you and the kids come over for tuna-fish sandwiches?”
We did. In the midst of eating simple tuna sandwiches, we laughed, told stories and had a wonderful time. By the time that lunch was over I felt strengthened to tackle my home disasters once again. What an encouragement she was to me. And something clicked too in Lynn’s mind that day, or so she told me later. She realized: “I can do this. I just need to do hospitality my own way…my own style. I am going to be intentional about this.”
That was just the beginning of Lynn’s uniquely beautiful ministry of hospitality almost 15 years ago. And you know what? Lynn still can’t cook. (She will even tell you that!) The cookies she shares are bought from the local Walmart. She’s found great sources of carry-out food for her dinners and Bible studies. And she feeds the young women she mentors the same way she feeds her family—with just “doctor it up dinners” and store bought salads and peach iced tea.
Lynn’s style of hospitality couldn’t be more different than mine. But she found her unique niche and it transformed her life and the life of all the people she ministers to. Because when it comes to practicing hospitality, yours doesn’t have to look anything like mine—or Lynn’s. In fact, your hospitality shouldn’t look like anyone else’s.
Hospitality really means loving others with your life That means your life—
• Your cracked dishes
• Your dramatic flair
• Your dinky apartment
• Your fabulous chili
• Your shyness and introversion
• Your soft spot for teenagers or senior citizens or singles or college students
• Your organizational challenges
• Your impossible schedule
• Your grubby kitchen floor
• Your Oriental rugs
• Your geriatric poodle and overly affectionate cats
• Your knack for decorating
• Your offbeat sense of humor
• Your tendency to run late
• Your perfectionist tendencies
• Your late paycheck
• Your unruly toddlers or sullen teens…or empty nest
Everything you are—your personality, your resources, your circumstances, your talents and spiritual gifts, even your particular failings and challenges—can be used by God to do his kingdom work of hospitality. Remember hospitality is a message you give others about their value. It is not about impressing someone but rather providing comfort and care. Practicing hospitality is learning, like my friend, to take advantage of your own particular style of serving and in doing so enrich someone else’s life as well as your own.Tammy Maltby is a speaker, author and media personality. Her passion for beautiful living and relationship-centered hospitality shines in her most recent book, The Christmas Kitchen: A Gathering Place for Making Memories. She is also the author of Confessions of a Good Christian Girl, Lifegiving, and A Discovery Journal to a Beautiful Life and Confessions of a Good Christian Guy and her most recent book The God Who Sees You. Tammy is the mother of four grown children, two of whom are adopted internationally and a happy grandmother to four grandsons. She lives in Colorado with her husband.
Visti her on her facebook page at Start Simply but Simply Start A Real-Woman Guide to Home, Food and a Welcoming Life https://www.facebook.com/pages/Start-Simply-but-Simply-Start/335012629934053?fref=ts