Hospitality is becoming more and more important to me. I like the idea of welcoming people into my home and sharing a meal with them. But the reality is slightly different. Many of my close friends are from uni days and they live on the other side of Sydney. So when we meet up, it’s not very hospitable to expect the other one to travel an hour and a half just to get to my home. Instead, it’s far more common that we meet in the city – easy enough for everyone to get to.
I do have some local friends who come over from time to time. It’s something I’d like to do more. But what about those city friends? Is there a way for me to show hospitality even though they’re not in my home? Yes! I definitely think it’s possible. Hospitality is more than just opening your home and providing Pinterest-perfect refreshments. Hospitality is about sharing. It’s about sharing your space, your time, your life with another person. It’s about being open and genuine. It’s about being present.
How can we practice hospitality outside the home? Here are just a few suggestions:
Put your phone away
This is a big one, and it only seems to be getting bigger. Being hospitable means giving the other person your full attention. And that can be hard to do with a phone always beeping or ringing or alerting you to new Facebook notifications. Put it in your handbag or your pocket, anywhere where it won’t be a distraction.
Listen to them
Sometimes when a friend’s talking, our minds are busy thinking of our part in the conversation – or we’re just away with the fairies somewhere. I know I’ve been guilty of that. But really putting in the effort to listen is a central part of hospitality. Making your friend feel valued, like what they have to say is worthwhile. Find out what’s really going on with them, listen beyond the superficial and allow them to share the deep stuff in a safe space.
Sharing the deep stuff goes both ways. Instead of just touching on the surface level, invite them into your world. Your struggles, your questions, your inner thoughts, your joys. Be brave. Be honest. It depends on how well you know your friend, but maybe you could aim to go a little deeper than you have before.
Pray with them
As Christians, this is the next step after sharing and listening. Asking about prayer points is a good start, but why not go one step further and pray together right then and there? It doesn’t have to be long or loud. You don’t have to make the whole cafe turn to look at you. But praying for each others’ needs together is a great way to extend honesty and mutual care.
Give a gift they can take home
Maybe you’re a person who loves to bake. Or craft. Or write little notes. Just because you’re out and about, rather than at home, doesn’t mean you can’t offer something. Not necessarily an extravagant gift, just a little something to let them know you’re thinking of them.
These are things I’m still learning to do. I’ve recently felt the call to move beyond the superficial and to really share my life with my friends. It’s been on my heart to encourage and support my friends, to show hospitality. Whether that happens in my home or in a cafe isn’t the central issue. Hospitality is something we can all practise – all you need is a friend, some time and an open and generous heart.