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My Home for the Holidays: Conquering Your Hospitality Fears

Jerusha Agen Fighting Fear 38 Comments

Jerusha: I’m honored to host hospitality expert and encourager, Sue Moore Donaldson, today! Especially since she’s offering a convicting message about hospitality, please join me in giving Sue a big Fear Warrior community welcome!

By Sue Moore Donaldson

hospitality-dining-table-aerial (800x565)“The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed” – Hudson Taylor

One night while walking with my mom around our neighborhood, I said quietly, “Mom, I’m willing to be a missionary except I am afraid of snakes.” She was a mother of five; snakes were the least of her concerns. I was fifteen. I didn’t like snakes.

Many years later, I came precariously close to a slender and fast-moving reptile in Central Mexico. Five years after that, I viewed a huge python through glass at a zoo in Brazil. In my thirties, a friend and I noticed some quick movement outside the screened windows in our house in Papua New Guinea. We stayed inside.

I had my fears at fifteen. They didn’t all include snakes. I could’ve stayed home. No one would blame me. Most people don’t like snakes. But there’s this thing called The Great Commission. Here it is:

Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20

It’s a Great Commission because a great God called us to a grand job. If I think too hard about the grandness of the job, I think, “Snakes!” and stay inside. Too scary.

What does all this talk of missionaries and snakes and Grand Pronouncements have to do with hospitality?

Everything.

We give God our lives at salvation—not just to be saved. No. We give our lives–and keep giving them to Him–to invite others to that same life. And a good way to do that is at our tables. One cup of coffee at a time.

It’s a matter of love–His and ours.

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I asked a bunch of women what kept them from doing hospitality. There were fears. Lots of them.

Here are some of their answers:

  • fear of not knowing how
  • fear that it’s too big a deal – can’t fulfill others’ expectations
  • fear of not knowing what to talk about
  • fear you may poison your guests
  • fear you don’t have enough time, money, or energy
  • fear of rejection – being turned down when asking someone over
  • fear of being compared with others

Wow. If I had to face all my fears in one day, I would never have anyone over! Maybe you feel the same. (And you don’t have anyone over.)

When I’m scared of hospitality, it’s because I have the wrong idea.

Hospitality isn’t entertaining.

The focus of entertaining is often the host. The focus of hospitality is the guest. The purpose of entertaining is often to impress. The purpose of hospitality is to serve. Like Jesus did. He gave His life for love.

God doesn’t say – “Go and make disciples and maybe you need to start in your kitchen” – so that we start on another guilt trip with no rest stops in sight.

No. Our heed to God’s call is a response to His love.

God’s hospitality is a matter of love–for us. Our hospitality is a matter of love—for God. If not, it won’t last.

I love having people over, but that’s not the love I’m talking about. We know we should love people enough to invite them, but that’s not the love I’m talking about.

Hospitality is a matter of love, but it’s our love for God that’s at stake. Do we love Him…enough to obey Him?

“Be hospitable” is not a suggestion for the extroverts and good cooks. Nope. It’s for all Christ-followers. It can be scary. Worse than snakes.

Next time God says, “You need to invite that gal over. She is lonely. She needs Me” –you may say, “Yes, Lord, I will but I’m scared to death.”

This is why you do it, anyway: The Ultimate Host invited first, out of love. Then we pass on the invitation. Invited to invite.

That’s it. That’s the reason. That’s why we do hospitality. Fears and all. Snake soup and all. All for love.

Invited to invite.

Does fear keep you from inviting people to your home? Which fear from Sue’s list is your toughest to beat? Please share!


SueMooreDonaldsonSue Moore Donaldson speaks and writes to introduce God’s welcoming heart—inviting you to know the Ultimate Host and pass on His invitation. She and her husband Mark live on the Central Coast of California and have raised three semi-adult daughters (which means she’s always at the bank or on her knees).

Sue blogs at Welcome Heart and is a frequent speaker for women’s events. You may view her speaking topics here. Connect with Sue on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. For more encouragement on how to show hospitality, join the Facebook group, Welcome Heart, Welcome Home, where Sue and others talk about all things hospitality!

Sue is giving away her ebook, “Invited to God’s Table,” and a printable placemat, “Thanking God Through the Alphabet,” for you and your family when you subscribe to her newsletter here.

For more from Sue, check out her books (available on Amazon or at www.welcomeheart.com/shop): Come to My Table: God’s Hospitality and Yours, Hospitality, 101: Lessons From the Ultimate Host-A 12-Week Bible Study, Table Mentoring: A Simple Guide to Coming Alongside


Come-to-My-TableCome to My Table explores the “gospel of hospitality,” and gives practical tips to encourage the most hesitant host. Recipes and pantry ideas included, as well as 25 theme party ideas and 60 tried and true tips for the truly tired.

Does God want the whole world in your living room? Probably not.  But He does want you to invite.

Who in your world has not seen your kitchen sink? It’s time. Trust Him for the courage to be His welcome.

Comments 38

  1. Michele Morin

    Perfect timing on this post, Sue — let’s expand the circumference of our hearts and the number of place settings at our Thanksgiving tables! I remember Elisabeth Elliot saying (or writing somewhere maybe?) that a life is not poured out all at once, but drop by drop, we give our obedience to God. I’m sure these words will result in many drops — maybe a deluge!

    1. sue

      I love that quote – yes – drop by drop and chair by chair – Praying for many expanded tables this holiday season – w/ strangers and sinners like me. Jesus sat with the best of them! thanks, michele Your friend, sue

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  2. Susan

    Love the quote, “The focus of entertaining is often the host. The focus of hospitality is the guest. ” YES! I think this is the real key for all of us remember…those who love hosting and those who don’t. Thanks for the reminder…I’m going to be quoting that!

    1. sue

      It’s a good one to remember, Susan – even for an oldie like me – it’s all about Who we serve and who’s invited to the table. Thanks for dropping by. Sue

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      Jerusha Agen

      Yes! I love this perspective, too, Susan. I definitely tend to think “successful” hosting is successful entertaining. I love the relief and wisdom in this point that the focus of hospitality is on service to our guests. So helpful!

  3. Marjorie

    I enjoy having people over but I fear all the work that goes into making it just right! I am not a good cook so I stress about the food as well as whether the house is clean enough, etc. Thanks for the reminder to focus on the guests, not on myself & trying to impress them.

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      Jerusha Agen

      I can SO relate, Marjorie! Those same concerns are part of what keeps me from having people over often. I always feel that everything has to be as perfect as I can make it in order for guests to be glad they came. I love Sue’s point here that we’re called to invite people in, not to entertain them or be perfect. We’re called to serve them, and that’s all. Hopefully, I’ll remember that this Thanksgiving! 🙂 So glad you purchased Sue’s book for your church!

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  4. Gayl

    “This is why you do it, anyway: The Ultimate Host invited first, out of love. Then we pass on the invitation. Invited to invite.” Yes, this! We don’t have to have a perfect home, a perfect meal, etc., we just need to show love and show people they are welcomed into our homes.

    Blessings to you, Sue! I’m your neighbor at both #SittingAmongFriends and #porchstories.

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      Jerusha Agen

      Yes, Gayl! I LOVE this truth that Sue shares here. I get so caught up in the pursuit of perfection when hosting that I make myself a stressed mess! The more important thing is showing love, and I need to remember that. Thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation, Gayl!

  5. Cathy

    I would love to have people over more often, but my husband is a man of little words and I’m an introvert who gets exhausted trying to carrying the conversation with guests on my own. We’ve always have an open door for our children’s friends who come by and visit all the time, so I try to be hospitable to them! : ) Great post!

    1. sue

      My husband as well – I’m his cross to bear! But I’ve found it’s easier on him if I have a college engineering student over or a single person that he can listen to and aid in some way. Also, I invite talkers so the burden isn’t on us – talkers always need an audience . Your kids’ friends will have happy memories from your welcoming home, that’s for sure.

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      Jerusha Agen

      Sounds like you have a challenging situation, Cathy! I can definitely relate, as an introvert myself. I like Sue’s tip (in the comments) to invite talkers to your gatherings. That’s the key for us introverts. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation, Cathy!

  6. Jerralea

    Sue, I love this: “The focus of entertaining is often the host. The focus of hospitality is the guest.”

    I never thought of it in that way before! If the focus is on the guest, wouldn’t that take pressure off me? I should have my mind off me, anyway!

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      Jerusha Agen

      I love that point, too, Jerralea! I hadn’t thought of hospitality as distinct from this idea we have that it needs to be “entertaining.” I especially love that seeing hospitality as focusing on service and love to guests lifts the pressure off. Thanks for joining the conversation today!

    1. sue

      Yes, I know – but it’s a word my mom grew up with and God has just shown me the difference these last 20 years or so and it makes it less pressure, as you realize – thanks, Sharon.

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      Jerusha Agen

      I’m afraid I’ve usually called hosting “entertaining,” too, Sharon. Never thought about Sue’s point that it’s not supposed to be about entertaining. I thought it was! I’m so thankful for this new perspective. Thanks for joining the conversation, Sharon!

  7. Brooke

    Great post and reminder of what hospitality really means. I love that you said, “hospitality is not about us, it’s about them.” Our focus should be on drawing others to Christ, by feeling welcomed and loved in our homes.

    1. sue

      So true, Brooke and also remembering that I invited them! A friend just texted she’s on her way! Thank the Lord for texting – and that she doesn’t mind a messy table. Must go (for obvious reasons… I did wonder yesterday why I made chocolate muffins! Ha!)

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      Jerusha Agen

      I love that point, too, Brooke. Hospitality doesn’t have to be so nerve-wracking if my focus is on simply serving others to the best of my ability. Thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation!

  8. Brenda

    Excellent advice, Sue. “The Ultimate Host…” He is, isn’t He? Hosts us each and every day in His presence, in this world He formed with a thought, this earth He spins round and round and round. Thank you, Jesus for being such a generous host, may I pay it forward to those within my sphere of influence who need to feel your presence today…and everyday. — Thanks for sharing, Sue. And, nice to meet you, Jerusha! 🙂

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    1. sue

      Thanks, friend. My mission: to enable hospitality (for heaven’s sake) – it’s throughout Come to My Table: God’s Hospitality and Yours (tell your husband it’s on your List)

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