Friday, April 6, 2012


Daddy retired from the Navy in 1964 and we moved to Greenville, NC. Ricky and I were teens when he discovered southern hospitality from our new back yard. Poking his nose over the neighbors' fence, he saw them grilling steaks. Introductions and welcoming conversation flowed, ending with, "Well, time for supper, Ricky. Ya'll come over and join us!"

(Ricky was a few years younger here)

Not recognizing a gesture to be merely a friendly gesture, he rushed into our house, announcing, "Hey everybody! We're invited next door for steaks!"

Mama sat down and taught Ricky about southern hospitality.

"So they just lied, Mom?"

"No-oooo. . .not exactly." The lesson continued into phase two.

About 20 years and three kids later, I began to unwrap my own gift of hospitality.

"You have a spiritual gift, probably more than one. What is yours?" the preacher asked.

That question launched a quest to discover mine. There are classes and surveys to help navigate that path. As I learned about myself, I began to see how God made me and gave me certain abilities to help others and glorify Him. Eventually I taught others how to figure out who they are and their purpose.

The music ministry in worship was a more obvious part of me. Hospitality was a secondary process of understanding myself and that gift. I learned it is NOT:
  • about a beautiful or clean house
  • about food (Good thing because I'm not a great cook!)
  • an event centered on where you live
  • elaborate preparation (It's more about open-heart over open house.)
Hospitality is a gift within me that makes people feel comfortable, welcomed, loved in my presence. That gift can be shared at church, on the street, at the grocery store or over a fence, even without grilled steaks!

Ever have someone shake your hand and greet you, "Hello. It's good to have you with us today," but you felt no warmth nor connection? Then another person comes up, "Good morning! So glad to see you. . ." and you instantly connect, feel truly welcomed and appreciated. Chances are, the second person has the gift of hospitality. It's not a right way vs. wrong way thing. It's who we are in Christ!

As I learned about being hospitable, I realized it IS:
  • loving people, as a people-person does quite naturally
  • conversing comfortably (ebb and flow, not dominating in monolog)
  • truly being open and welcoming, whether into your home or your life (being real)
  • accepting folks for who they are, allowing them to be at ease in that
Yes, it involves opening our home at times but it may happen with just popcorn and a Coke, not a seven course meal. It means the baseboards do not necessarily get dusted, and my pride is not a factor. As I relaxed in this endeavor, others could too. Being with people in the moment, eye to eye, heart to heart trumped hors d'oeuvres.

A little less Martha, a little more Mary.

A few simple principles helped me feel comfortable with the gift of hospitality.

* Decluttering both my house and my schedule opened space for others to feel comfortable, relaxed and at home.

I focus more on keeping things picked up rather than cleaned up. Tidy passes for both and welcomes people.

Messy space creates stress, whether it's a too full closet, desk, room or schedule. It repels folks.

* Less is more. Simple meal, simple agenda, unhurried evenings invite folks to enjoy. Rush kills hospitality.

* Don't try to impress, with my home or my conversation.
Listening is more important than name dropping or show-casing.

* Don't be impressed. This sounds strange but often uncomfortable people try to win you by impressing you. The range is anywhere from who they know, where they've been to how much they own. It sometimes masks the real person. Free them up from their performance trap. Let them know you like them for who they are, not who they know, what they do nor how much they earn. Love people!

* Don't be busy or distracted. Be there. Ever try to talk with someone and you see their eyes darting over your shoulder? You know they are not truly engaged in the conversation. The gift of hospitality brings you fully into the moment, not rushing ahead to the next. Multitasking kills true fellowship.

* Be organized before guests arrive. Do as much ahead as possible, so you are free to be in the moment.

* With whatever needs to be done last minute, enlist your guests' help as needed, rather than wait on them. I ask for help then whether it's a Bible study or supperclub in my home. Nothing makes people feel at home more than stepping into your kitchen. They feel needed and useful too. Plus you enjoy their company while working.

Recently we had friends over and I tried a new omelet roll recipe. I knew it would be a tricky last minute thing so I asked one of the ladies, "Would you please help me with this?" She did! We did! Ask for help when you need it.

Our lives are happiest, most relaxed and fulfilled when we know who we are in Christ. Being yourself blesses others and Him! Enjoy the journey to that discovery.

Just being me,


  1. I can say from experience that Kathy practices what she says here about hospitality. I've always felt welcome and comfortable in her home, but my last visit was the best of all. Thanks Kat and Doug, for practicing this gift.

  2. Martha Hill Johns wrote:

    I needed this... AWESOME reminder! Have a BLESSED Easter!
    about an hour ago · Like

  3. Brenda Walker Ragan (college friend) wrote:

    Kathy, I experience you hospitality thru the miles of circuits here on Facebook. You bless my heart with your care and humor. Thank you for sharing your gift! ; ))
    48 minutes ago · Like