Skip to main content

“It was a little different hosting dinner in this new house,” Clint commented off-handedly.
I paused, my hands still slippery with sudsy dishes. “What do you mean?” The last of our guests had just said good-night, and we were busy straightening up.
“Didn’t you notice how the line was backed up when people were getting food? It’s a little more crowded in this kitchen. And everyone had to get water out of the sink since the fridge doesn’t work. It’s no big deal, just different.”
Later while Clint was sound asleep, I frowned into the dark. The sink was full of dirty dishes while everyone was getting water. Why didn’t I notice that? Why didn’t I put the water in a pitcher? Did so-and-so have a pitcher when I went to her house? She did…she had one with lemonade and another with sweet tea and she even had lemon slices! The more I thought about it, the more dismal I felt. What kind of pastor’s wife doesn’t know how to host a gathering?
When it comes to hospitality, my first emotion is often apprehension. So many details. So many variables. So many ways to perform. Clint, on the other hand, feels sheer gusto. So many people! So many chicken wings! So much fun to be had! Thankfully, over the years we’ve learned a few basic principles for practicing hospitality as a couple.

Hospitality begins with authenticity.

This is the lesson I am continually learning, and what a freeing lesson it is! Hospitality is not about the home so much as the heart. It’s about loving people enough to welcome them into your life. Not your imaginary Pinterest life, but your real, everyday life—the one with weaknesses, imperfection, and noisy children drinking tap water without a pitcher. In I Thessalonians 2:8, Paul wrote of the church at Thessalonica, “We loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”
Do Clint and I tidy before people arrive? Of course. We put on music and arrange food and pick up toys. But then we sit and share life. We let engaged couples into our marriage to learn from our mistakes. We watch hordes of children put on puppet shows nobody understands. We laugh, and listen, and let down our guard. Because at the end of the day, an open door isn’t nearly as appealing without an open heart behind it.

Hospitality should be a reflection of both husband and wife.

The thought of throwing a party makes Clint come alive. If I don’t keep an eye on him, he’s ordering deep fryers on Amazon and estimating the cost of installing an outdoor brick oven just so he can make the perfect pizza. That’s just Clint. When I think about throwing a party I need a notebook, pencil, and antacid. Once the party is underway, I love it! But as an introvert and a planner, I have to gear up for it. Wonderfully, the Bible teaches that there is beauty and strength in the melding of different personalities. Colossians 3:12-13b says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another.” Before hospitality is practiced “outwardly” toward others, it ought to be practiced “inwardly” between a husband and wife. By accepting our differences with humility and grace, we demonstrate hospitable hearts toward one another. Then as we open our homes to others, we can practice hospitality as an expression of two personalities and preferences, not one.
For Clint and I, this means hospitality is structured because I’m structured. Clint may invite someone over spontaneously, but it won’t be an invitation for the same-day. He gives me a couple of days to plan. Hospitality for us also means Clint gets to put on his bells and whistles. Recently we had people over and I made my staple manicotti dish (for the 500th time in my life), while Clint fired up his brand new Big Green Egg to experiment with turning pizza dough into garlic bread. Over the years, I’ve learned to bless Clint by regularly hosting large gatherings in our home, and he’s learned to bless me by cleaning up afterwards instead of waiting until the next day. As we learn to give-and-take, we create a rhythm of hospitality that is unique to us as a couple, and, in so doing, we capitalize on our strengths.

There is a hierarchy to hospitality.

While Clint and I approach hospitality differently, there is one sense in which we’re completely unified. We deeply value Christ’s mission. This means that we prioritize having lost and hurting people in our home. Several months ago we had an especially busy week. Out of the blue, one of Clint’s old employees from his days as a carwash manager asked to come over. This guy was completely unchurched and hadn’t seen Clint in years, but he wanted to visit with his girlfriend for relationship advice. The night before they were scheduled to come, Clint looked at me and said, “Should we cancel? I know I’ve had to work late a lot this week and we’ve had people over constantly. I’m exhausted, aren’t you?”
“I am,” I admitted. “But honestly, this is the one thing we shouldn’t cancel. If we have to cancel everything else, that’s fine. But don’t cancel on them.”
Without skipping a beat, Clint said, “You’re right.”
When hospitality is about impressing others, it’s stressful. When it’s about entertaining, it’s over at the end of the night — but when hospitality is about the mission of Jesus, it’s exciting and eternally rewarding. I have traveled to countries all over the globe, but the greatest adventure of my life has been ministering to people with Clint in our own living room. Nothing is more fulfilling than being part of God’s story and using your home as a platform for His love.


  • Avatar Mary says:

    So good, Jeanne! This is something Mike and I have had to learn to navigate over the years. He is a Martha and I am named Mary for a reason! Your suggestions will help us even more!

  • Avatar Jeannie says:

    Perfect! I am always anxious to invite others over because I know that I cannot measure up to someone with a Pinterest home, attention to details (like the sliced lemons), or elegant foods. However, when I am afraid, I am keeping myself from practicing hospitality and from putting on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Thank you for sharing your story, Jeanne!

Leave a Reply