10 Reasons to Hate Hospitality

In the middle of my kitchen, there’s a floor mat with a chunk missing where a mouse once took a bite. The night I first saw that white blur dashing through my living room, I sat on the stairs of my condo spiraling into a panic.

What if I just grabbed my keys and never returned? I thought. 

Like throwing out the baby with the bathwater—as the expression goes—I wanted to burn down my house to get rid of a rodent. Irrational? Yes. Obviously, I would never intentionally damage my home. But having a negative experience can tempt us to overreact. 

Around the same time that my mouse first made an appearance, I was researching what the Bible says about how we are to use our homes. Romans 12:13 commands us to “pursue hospitality,” but many of us don’t accept Scripture’s call because of negative past experiences that have made us want to lock our doors, throw away the key, and start over somewhere else.

Think back on your own experiences extending hospitality. Have you ever had a moment when you thought, “I am never doing this again”? Perhaps . . . 

  • you planned a women’s gathering at church, but looked back on the time and energy it required and decided you definitely wouldn’t be signing up in the future. 
  • you hosted a bridal or wedding shower, but when your husband saw the final receipt he discouraged you from spending that much money on an event for someone else.
  • you invited friends into your home, but after hearing about some of their comments, you felt embarrassed and wished you had never asked them over in the first place.

It’s not that you’ve given up on the idea of serving others completely—you would never burn down your house because of a mouse. But perhaps what you have seen has caused you to pull back and reevaluate what it means to open your heart and home without fear.

10 Reasons to Hate Hospitality 

We live in a world impacted by sin, which means that our homes can have rodents and our hospitality takes place among imperfect people. In the context of our world, it’s easy to come up with a list of reasons to not be hospitable. As you read through the one that follows, consider the reasons that feel most relatable to your own life. Which ones do you use as an excuse to not serve others? Which ones tempt you to throw in your hospitality towel for good? 

1. “Hospitality is stressful.” 

From planning a menu to cleaning your floors to making sure every detail is in place, the preparations for hosting feel overwhelming. 

2. “Hospitality is expensive.” 

It can be a financial burden to feed other people, provide supplies for an event, or fill your home with up-to-date decor. 

3. “Hospitality is time-consuming.” 

With a busy schedule filled with church activities and a family demanding your attention, can you really afford to give your time to anything else?

4. “Hospitality is physically draining.” 

It’s exhausting to meet others’ needs, and if you add something like a chronic illness to the mix, it can feel impossible. 

5. “Hospitality puts you in the role of referee.” 

Hosting guests can lead to conflict and tensions that arise from disagreements, differing personalities, and misunderstandings of all kinds. 

6. “Hospitality invites criticism.” 

When you open your home and heart to others, it gives them increased ability to offer comments and critiques that hurt your feelings. 

7. “Hospitality feels vulnerable.” 

It can be scary to serve others when you don’t know how your actions will be perceived. 

8. “Hospitality can be thankless.” 

You can work tirelessly to serve others, and they won’t always appreciate your efforts or acknowledge them in the way you’d like. 

9. “Hospitality is inconvenient.” 

It’s one thing to show hospitality when it’s planned and scheduled, but it’s much harder when it causes an interruption or disruption to your everyday routine. 

10. “Hospitality doesn’t seem worth it.” 

When it’s all said and done and you can’t see the fruit of your labor, it’s easy to wonder if pursuing hospitality is worth the effort. 

10 Ways to Rethink Hospitality

The truth is that hospitality is hard. It can be costly. Many of these reasons are valid—but they’re not challenges that should make you take your keys and lock the door on hospitality forever. 

1. When hospitality feels stressful . . . shift your focus. 

When it comes to hospitality, stress will reveal the true motivation of your heart. Serving others is meant to be “an outflow of Jesus’ love for you. This shift is important because it minimizes the aspects of hospitality that can cause the most stress: elaborate menu planning, spotless floors, quiet, well-behaved children, scintillating dinner conversation . . . None of those are required to show someone genuine love.”1 (See 1 Cor. 13:5 and Rom. 12:9–10.)

2. When hospitality is expensive . . . consider what you can offer. 

Hospitality doesn’t have to be expensive. “You may have little to offer your guests, but if you give them peace and joy and the presence of Christ then it doesn’t matter whether you’re serving caviar or canned soda. What you extend can be a meaningful gift to your guests if the Spirit of God is evident.”2 (See Matt. 10:42.) 

3. When hospitality becomes time-consuming . . . entrust your limitations to the Lord. 

God knows that you only have twenty-four hours in a day. He alone is eternal and not bound by the constraints of time; He knows you face limitations (Psalm 103:14). Ask Him to help you steward the time that He has given you within the boundaries of your present season. You likely don’t need to look for a separate time block on your calendar to extend hospitality, but what if you invited a younger woman to go with you to the grocery store? Or asked a single woman to eat lunch with your family on Sundays? Or text your neighbor to see if she wants to join you when you take your dog for a walk around the block? 

4. When hospitality is physically draining . . . learn to serve out of His strength. 

Admit your weakness to the Lord and ask for His help as you begin to extend hospitality, trusting that He is able and willing to meet your needs and give you the strength for the tasks He’s put in front of you. As 1 Peter 4:11 says, “If anyone serves, let it be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.” 

5. When hospitality puts you in the role of referee . . . seek to make peace. 

When you think about how you’d like your hospitality to feel, you likely don’t think of descriptions such as “chaotic, disruptive, or filled with conflict.” You want your home and moments you extend hospitality to others to be calming and peaceful—but it would be much easier to cultivate that kind of environment if people weren’t involved in the process. As long as you are called to serve fellow sinners, you can expect there will be conflict to address. Romans 12:18 says, “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” The pursuit of peace is always worth it. 

6. When hospitality invites criticism into your life . . . accept it as a lesson in humility. 

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has said that one difference between proud people and broken people is that “proud people are elated by praise and deflated by criticism.”3 It stings when someone teases you about a meal gone wrong or gossips about the way your home looks or the way an event was run. Take those tender hurts to the Lord—if they reveal pride in your heart, repent of those areas, and then ask Him to help you to forgive those who have wronged you so that you can live in harmony with them (Rom. 12:16).

7. When hospitality feels vulnerable . . . fight your fear with faith. 

Sometimes we’re fearful that our actions will look stupid, we’ll be embarrassed, that a meal or an event won’t turn out as we hoped, or that we’ll take a step toward loving someone and be rejected . . . When we’re afraid, we see the thing that we’re afraid of as big and our capacity as small. We may believe that our embarrassment will be too much for us to handle, so we avoid anything that might cause it. But we are to fight big fears with something even bigger: God’s strength and sovereignty.4

God is more than able to “supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). 

8. When hospitality is thankless . . . know your work doesn’t go unnoticed. 

Embracing hospitality means giving of your time, your energy, your resources, and your life. Much of what you give to others may never be appreciated by those who receive it, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be acknowledged. When Jesus addressed His disciples in Matthew 6:3–4, He encouraged them to give in secret. Why? He told them, “Your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” You too can trust that your heavenly Father not only sees all that you do for others, but that He will reward you. 

9. When hospitality is inconvenient . . . accept the interruptions. 

Hospitality includes responding graciously to the child who needs your attention while you’re in the middle of another task. It’s being patient with the coworker who drops by your desk or the neighbor who stops you at your car when you’re already running late for church. Throughout the Gospels, you’ll find examples of Jesus responding to others with kindness, even when they seemed to interrupt His day. You have an opportunity to minister with Christlike love when others do the same to you.

10. When hospitality doesn’t feel worth it . . . don’t give up. 

Hospitality will stretch you. It may cause you to wonder if what you’re giving up is ultimately worth it, but surrender to the Lord is never in vain. God uses the sacrifices made through hospitality to increase your joy, make you more like Christ, and give those around you a glimpse of the eternal glories to come.5

Keep going, for you “will reap at the proper time if [you] don’t give up” (Gal. 6:9).

Mouse Lessons

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a mouse in my home, but I haven’t replaced the mat that he took a bite of. Every time I walk into my kitchen to cook dinner or get a glass of water, the missing piece reminds me that we shouldn’t expect hospitality to be perfect while we live here on earth. But we have been called to press on and pursue it. As we do, we’ll not only experience the grace and power of God personally, we’ll be a means for others to witness it as well. 

Have you heard? We’re dropping new videos each Tuesday for six weeks to complement our newest study, You’re Welcome Here: Embracing the Heart of Hospitality. Stop by here each week for a new video, and don’t forget to request your copy of You’re Welcome Here when you donate to the ministry this month. 

You’re Welcome Here: Embracing the Heart of Hospitality (Niles, MI: Revive Our Hearts, 2024), 12.

You’re Welcome Here, 59.

You’re Welcome Here, 78.

You’re Welcome Here, 57.

You’re Welcome Here, 66.

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