Guest post by Aimee Hutchison. See part one of this series here.
There’s no doubt that women have particular gifts and strengths when it comes to hospitality. We do bring something unique to the table—literally! God created us to be caring and nurturing in particular ways, and these traits shine in environments of hospitality.
That being said, hospitality is not just women’s work. Like we see in 1 Timothy 3:2, elders are to be hospitable. Some women are married to godly men with whom they can show hospitality, as they and their husbands exercise their different gifts in harmony. For example, when we have people in for a meal, Chris doesn’t do much in the kitchen. He excels at the table, engaging people in conversation, providing a warm environment for them to share and talk and laugh, and he helps guide the conversation towards Christ.
Other women are not married, or they are not married to husbands who have a heart for hospitality. But that doesn’t mean for a second that they can’t show hospitality. Lydia was a single women who, in Acts 16, provided hospitality to Paul and Silas and later opened her home as the meeting place for the church in that city (Acts 16:40).
Whatever situation we’re in, whatever gifts we think we have or don’t have, as women we all have a calling and a particular ability to show warm, Christ-honouring hospitality.
Here’s a few examples of the different opportunities for hospitality that the Lord has given me at different stages in my life.
Growing up, our home was always open and my mom and her mom lived out great examples of hospitality for as long as I can remember. They have always had an open door to take others in, have overnight guests stay, or have our friends over for after-school snacks. Every event had some sort of snack or food to fellowship over.
My parents invited my sisters and I to participate with them in hospitality, and it was a family effort—working together to have people into our home and seek to be a blessing to them. One of my life’s goals is to be like my grandma who can whip meals up in a matter of minutes. I remember one time Chris and I were dating and we went over to her place, and the question was, as always, “Are you hungry? Can I get you something to eat?” It was close to 9:00 in the evening, but we said, “maybe a little,” and minutes later she had plates of steaming fish and veggies in front of us. I want to be like her!
When I was in college, fourteen hours away from home, I was so blessed when I was invited into someone’s home. It was such a welcome break from campus life to have a meal with another family. I had a mentor who lived off campus and invited me to stay, after our meetings, to have supper with them. At the time they had three young children with another on the way. It was such a gift to participate in their family life, and a bonus was to be a fly on the wall, observing and learning what parenting and running a home looked like with a young family.
After I graduated from my third year of college I had a desire to extend this same blessing to some of the many college students who attended our church. I connected with three young women who started coming over for supper every Monday night. I still lived at my parents’ house, but as I mentioned, they love hospitality and were totally on board, even while they gave me space to learn and grow in hostessing. It was during this time that I started honing in on some cooking skills as I made the ladies supper weekly, and it was great to have my mom around when I needed to ask questions.
Often the girls would bring a friend or two, and some weeks we’d play game after our meal, while other times they all brought homework and hunkered down in the living room to study afterward.
Another opportunity I had not long after college involved a ministries internship at my church. At that point, the church was going through a building project, and the building crew was mostly made up of of volunteers. I’m not very handy, but I do enjoy being in the kitchen, and got to live out hospitality in yet a another aspect as I helped coordinate a team to provide snacks for coffee breaks, lunches, and suppers for the work crew.
I often made the meals for them as well, sometimes working alongside other women and learning from them. It was fun and challenging coming up with meals that would feed a bunch of hungry men, and I even got to try my hand at making waffles with four waffle makers going at a time. It was a good growing experience providing meals, rest and comfort alongside others in that old dimly lit church basement.
Shortly after this, Chris and I got married, and hospitality has looked very different at various stages in our marriage. There was a time early on where, once a month, we’d have a group of ten or so young adults over for supper in our small condo. We would add another table that would extend our eating area out into the living room, and then we’d need to take that table down to fit everybody into the living room for the Bible study that followed. Learning how to use crockpots to feed a crowd after I had worked all day was a new experience.
Since moving to Nipawin, we have tried to open our home and resources to neighbours. As we’ve met new neighbours I’ve tried making myself available, saying something like, “If you ever are in a pinch and need a cup of sugar, come on by.” I’ve had to ask a neighbour for baking soda and tin foil when I ran out last minute. Creating that openness in a relationship right off the bat is a good place to start as you open up your resources, home, and heart to them.
We continue to grow and learn as a couple (and now family) in practicing hospitality. We try to sit down at the beginning of each month and plan who we would like to invite over intentionally, while also leaving space for spontaneous hospitality. There was a season where we planned to have people over for lunch each Sunday. I know of others who pick a different day of the week and build hospitality into their schedule that way. I’ve heard from someone who heats up frozen pizzas and makes popcorn every Friday night and invites others to join them.
The point is, hospitality doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive. It’s something we can all do wherever we’re at in life. It’s about a posture of seeking to connect with and bless others, offering ourselves to the Lord and then to them for His sake.
More to come.