The Gift of Hospitality

In Life Lessons by Tommy Thompson1 Comment

Hospitality is a vastly underappreciated gift. It has more to do with spirit than with decoration. We have all been in extravagant places that cried out “Don’t touch,” or “Be impressed with me.” Equally, we have received the gift of hospitality in simple places that exuded warmth and acceptance. I remember going to a friend’s house with our kids when they were young and feeling so welcomed despite the chaos of wrangling small children. 

We give or withhold the gift of hospitality many times throughout each day. When we sit around a table for lunch, we communicate with our body that we either have time or are too busy for the person across from us. We make clear that we are either listening or we are judging. We regrettably miss opportunities for hospitality because we would rather be available through our phones to people who are not even with us. Hospitality is about giving singular focus to the people that we encounter each day.

Too often we think of hospitality as something we create for strangers or acquaintances. Hospitality is first the offering we give to those closest to us, our family and our closest friends. We listen around the dinner table. We take a walk with a loved one. We relax uninterrupted with a glass of wine. We settle down unrushed and read a story or listen to the day’s events with our children. These are the moments that make a great life. They are the best life has to offer. How sad that we miss the opportunity that each day offers for hospitality with the people we love the most. 

The gift of hospitality needs space.We create spaces in our life where we can tune out the voices and demands crying for our attention, and we offer these spaces as a way of saying that you are valuable, you matter to me.

The gift of hospitality expresses itself through place.Those who have the gift of hospitality, including my wife Weezie, instinctively know how to create places that are inviting, that tell those coming that they are welcome, wanted, and that it is safe. I don’t know how to do this always, but I recognize when I am in a hospitable place.

The gift of hospitality is conveyed by acceptance.Hospitality receives the other person for who they are without judgment or superiority. Posturing and trying to impress dilutes welcome. True hospitality is first about the other person. This is why hospitality takes humility. As CS Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” This is the gift of hospitality, where one is valued and welcomed and lifted up as the special person they are.

The spirit of hospitality whispers its chances every single day. It may be a quieter gift than leadership or charisma, but the lingering fruit of hospitality makes impressions that lasts a lifetime. In its simplicity, hospitality changes people forever, for there are few places we are so loved and so valued as through the gift of hospitality.

Comments

  1. I know it can also be life changing (thinking of Erik and garth, both unplanned for and longtime guests (you know ). They were incredible young men from another culture and part of the world. We all learned so much from them. One thing I learned was how much alike we all are. It one of the best things we ever did and I think it impacted each member of the family. I wouldn’t trade the experience.

    I agree totally about Weezie. She has never known a stranger and is always thinking of the other guy. Wonderful girl.

    Yes, you were a good “picker among other good things!!!!!

Leave a Comment