This post is the last in a series on hospitality. Begin the series here.
Sometimes the biggest challenge of hospitality isn’t giving it, it’s accepting it graciously when others choose to offer it!
Because sometimes we’re just not willing to let others serve us. Or to let anyone give us a gift without an “IOU” attached.
Perhaps you’ve known someone whose identity was too wrapped up in service–so much so that they’re unwilling to let anyone serve them! On the outside, this person seems helpful and self-sacrificing. They’re always the first to volunteer for a service project; the one to go the extra five miles to create Pinterest-perfect decorations for a party. They prefer to be the one making all the meals and doing all the dishes. In fact, they can’t rest if someone else takes over.
What motivates them? Is it always the other person’s comfort and needs? Or is it their own need to be recognized?
There are also the people who don’t accept gifts because they feel guilty that the giver is making a sacrifice for them. That was me as a teenager. My family of eight didn’t have a lot of disposable income, so even the prospect of a friend buying my meal at Taco Bell made me uncomfortable.
Others make generosity a contest, and they won’t back down easily. Maybe you’ve watched people “fight” over who gets the right to pay for something:
“I got this. I’ll cover the tab tonight.”
“Oh, no, we couldn’t let you do that! Really, we’ll pay.”
“No, no, I want to pay!”
Why? Why is it so important to be the one who always gives–the model of generosity?
If someone wants to bless you, why not give them that joy?
I wonder why we have such a hard time just saying “thank you.”
Perhaps it’s for the same reasons that we don’t take a Sabbath of true rest during the week. We want to feel useful and productive and needed, but we don’t let God meet our needs for rest and quiet.
Perhaps we neglect to accept God’s other gifts as well.
As Christmas time approaches, are we prepared to say “thank you” for one of God’s greatest gifts?
I’m reminded of a conversation I had with my younger brother when we were both little. It went something like this…
Me, ready to show how smart I was: “Christmas is all about getting.”
My younger brother, horrified: “No, it’s not! It’s about giving!!”
Me, (smugly): “Nope. It’s all about getting.”
My brother: “Mom, Elsie said that Christmas is about getting!”
Me, getting to the punchline quickly to avoid a mini-lecture: “Yeah, because it’s about GETTING THE GIFT OF BABY JESUS!”
I thought I was being pretty smart, when really I was just being a smartypants.
But…it’s kind of true. Christ’s coming to earth was a marvelous gift; and even more wonderful, it’s our privilege to accept it.
Learn to say “thank you.” For good gifts and the hospitality of friends and strangers. For the chance to let someone else serve. For a Sabbath of rest or the birth of God’s son.
Do you ever have a hard time accepting hospitality from others? How have you learned to say “thanks”?
Posts in this series:
Part 1: What My Mother Taught Me About Hospitality
Part 2: Why Practice Hospitality?
Part 3: 7 People Who Need Your Hospitality
Part 4: How to Host Guests for a Meal
Part 5: Company Menus for Any Occasion
Part 6: How to Make an Overnight Guest Feel At Home
Part 7: How to Graciously Accept Hospitality
Other resources on hospitality:
The Joy of Hospitality series @ Young Wife’s Guide