Who are we trying to please anyway?
It’s the Monday of Thanksgiving week. Hosts, we got this. Here are a couple things to remember:
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24
There is a difference between trying to make people feel welcomed and loved, and trying to impress. It’s a fine line. Be aware of it. Trying to impress will leave you feeling exhausted and unfulfilled, trying to serve will leave you and your guests filled with joy. It’s the difference between making sure everyone has a seat at the table, and fretting over making sure every chair matches and is beautiful.
Watch your attitude!
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:8-9
This is a big one, friends. Frankly it discourages me how quickly I can be enticed to grumble when it comes to being hospitable. No matter how hard I work to prepare, the few hours before an event seem to always get me a little frantic, and this often leads to grumbling and usually over the stupidest stuff! Why is it that you don’t notice the smudges on the baseboards or the doggie nose prints on the back glass door until people are about to show up and it’s too late to do anything about them? I’m working on this. I don’t want to be a grumbler.
Stay out of the ditches!
In my opinion there are two ditches we tend to fall into when it comes to hosting. The first one is that everything must be PERFECT! Not a smudge on a baseboard, not a dish in the sink, no unmade beds, and not a dog hair to be seen! And the host will make her family quite miserable making sure no hosting stone has been left unturned. She will freak out, yell, grumble, threaten etc. to get that house into tip top shape. TIP TOP SHAPE, PEOPLE!
The other ditch is the ‘whatever’ ditch. This is the attitude of ‘take me as I am.’ I’m not cleaning for y’all. You can come and see the real us and if you don’t like it…well, too bad! Just push that pile of laundry out of your way and have a seat. No one cares anyway.
Clearly the goal of a good, God honoring host is in the middle of those two ditches. We want people to be comfortable in our homes. If the people coming have children perhaps don’t leave out your grandma’s crystal vase on the coffee table. How comfortable are your guests going to be in your house if at every turn their children could break something valuable? On the other hand, you don’t want to clear every surface and turn your whole house into a toddler playhouse. How is that nice for the adults? Find a middle ground! You don’t have to have a kitchen that sparkles like the night sky and looks like no one has ever cooked in it to be a good host. But if there are so many dishes stacked everywhere that your guests can’t find a clean glass for some water that’s a problem. You don’t need a house that looks like no children live there to host friends, but if every seat is covered in toys where are your guests going to sit?
And to confuse things even further, the point is never what the guests think of YOU, but how they feel in your home and how they feel about who you are serving. WHY are you serving them? Because you love the Lord and he instructed us to love his people. I want my guests to feel like I prepared for them. I want them here. I have made a place for them. Not because I’m some great host, but because THEY are children of God and I want to serve Him by serving them.
My point is, it’s not really about what exactly you do, but why you do it. If your home is tiny and you’re eating PB&Js off of paper plates for an afternoon playdate with a new mom at your church and you didn’t manage to get those few baskets of laundry put away, and there are some of last night’s dishes still in the kitchen you didn’t get to, but you made a comfy place in the living room to chat for a while, and you got out the train set that is usually put away so all the kids would have a fun activity to keep them occupied while you get to know your new friend better, that new friend is going to feel so loved. You thought of her and her children. You prepared for her.
Maybe you’re empty nesters and you decided to invite a few couples over for dinner to get to know them better. Get out the good China. It’s only 6 plates you have to hand wash. Get down the fancy glasses or grab some nice goblets at the dollar store. Use cloth napkins. This is always so well received. Your guests feel like you went the extra mile for them. You prepared for them. They were worth the good China. It’s not about showing off your good China or fancy glasses, its showing people you love them.
So as we begin this crazy frantic week of vacuuming up the dog hair and cleaning baseboards and cooking way too much food in way too small a kitchen all while trying not to grumble, remember just Who we are trying to please
P.S Take the turkey out of the freezer. It’s time.