6 Ways to Practice Hospitality in Unfamiliar Situations [or Outside Your Comfort Zone]

In follow-up of last week’s post on expanding our territory through hospitality, I invite you to consider the various ways to reach out to others.

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Our women’s small group met for the first time this week. Ten apprehensive, excited women formed a circle, and began to form a bond.

As we went around the room introducing ourselves and sharing our stories, I felt new territory under our feet as we walked beyond the boundaries of our comfort zones:

  • Our facilitator admitted to her nervousness, but graciously stepped in faith to serve our group and God.
  • As one woman held out her story for us to see, grief-stricken thoughts brimmed salty and spilled down her cheek. Her neighbor extended an arm around a quivering shoulder.
  • Another took a deep breath before speaking, as if her breath was a prayer for courage.

With each introduction and personal contribution, I realized we were living in hospitality. There were no homemade pies, hot mugs of freshly brewed coffee or comfortable sofas. Instead, offerings of warm eyes and extended hearts enriched the relationships in the small classroom. Tenderness, trust and transparency filled the room.

Hospitality takes on many forms. Ponder what Peter wrote: “Be generous with the different things God gave us, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help” (1 Peter 4­: 10-11 The Message)

Peter also tells us to love each other as if our lives depended on it.

Hospitality is not limited to hosting small group in our homes or inviting friends over for a dinner party—we can step into new places trusting God will work in and through us. Consider these ways we can reach out to others, inviting them into our lives, whether in our neighborhoods or on a mission trip across the world.

  1. Expand Comfort Zones – Reaching beyond your comfort zone is a place within you and not a set of circumstances outside of you. Choosing to respond to the opportunities around you—be it in a Third World country, next door, at work or in your church expands your territory as God works in bigger ways through you.
  2. Be Willing to Serve in Both Big and Small Ways – Serving others through acts of hospitality allow us to learn more about ourselves through personal growth and self-knowledge. Lead a small group, serve food at your local soup kitchen, visit the elderly in a nursing home or build a handicap ramp for a cancer patient. You may not always feel ready, but God will prepare you in ways you can’t imagine. Did Mary feel ready to be pregnant with Our Savior?
  3. Create Valuable Experiences – Creating valuable life and personal experiences expand your life and bring deep joy. Life experiences, not things make most people happier. Create memories with others by attending that Saturday breakfast meeting, kayaking trip or soap making class.
  4. Develop Meaningful Relationships – Interacting with and even relying on others as you faithfully do the work God calls you to do. This brings joy to both you and the other person.
  5. Love through Actions – Forming and practicing habits that speak the language of love through actions, rather than words, provides richness to life—a place to savor the splendor of hospitality. Even the smallest actions, like a smile, speak loudest, building a bridge for connection.
  6. Prioritize People over Time – Years ago, I participated in Billy Graham’s “My Hope” training where they taught: Value people over time. When time constraints don’t allow you to schedule separate activities with your neighbor, friend or coworker, add them to your already existing schedule by inviting them with you as you shop, attend yoga class, eat a meal, or watch your children’s soccer game. Finding creative ways to share life with others displays hospitality in fresh new ways.

Go ahead. Be astonished when you ask if you can pray over someone. Be amazed when your words, either penned or spoken, touch a heart. Be uplifted when you pick up the phone and call a person in need. Be awakened to the joy of a friendship. Be awed by God when you show up and use the gifts He has given you.

Question: How can you be awed by God today?

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