Hospitality Is Not a Personality Type

If you limit your idea of hospitality to what can be flawlessly presented in social media squares, you’ll miss her:the woman who is more comfortable working a spreadsheet than a room full of people . . . the woman who is analytical and introverted and a hospitable force for the kingdom of God. 

That kind of woman may not be the bubbly mom creating cute content for Pinterest. She’s not the type to jump in front of a camera. She prays for courage before calling someone on the phone. She’s never aspired to be an influencer, but she’s making an eternal impact on her world that won’t fade when the algorithm resets. 

Maybe she’s you. Does the relational side of ministry seem to require a little more intentionality and effort from you than from other people? Perhaps your shy nature feels more like an obstacle to overcome than an asset you can leverage to serve the Lord. Before you count yourself out, consider this: God wants to use the personality that He gave you to show His hospitable heart to others. 

Beyond Julia Child 

When I interviewed Jill Miller, a Revive Our Hearts Ambassador, the ROH production crew was also scheduling time to meet with her to film video content for the You’re Welcome Here Bible study series. As Jill and I began talking, she mentioned how funny it was to her that she was being included in so many conversations about hospitality. “I’m not Julia Child,” she said. “I’m just me.”

Jill may not be Julia, but she’s brilliant, kind, analytical . . . and curious. Toward the end of our time together, I noticed that one theme had shown up throughout the interview: curiosity is Jill’s hospitality superpower. Her personality type drives her to constantly be thinking and questioning and wondering about the world and those around her. She’s curious about people and curious about what God could be doing in their lives. That interest in others has helped her to love those around her well. She not only pays attention to people, she pays attention to how God may be directing her focus when it comes to those relationships. 

When I asked Jill to define hospitality, she initially said that it involves having people over and opening her home. Then she paused and added, “You know, the more I think about it, hospitality is not so much the physical act of inviting people to something. It’s about inviting them into relationship—no matter what the venue is.”

K: How do you approach hospitality?

Jill: If you’re familiar with Henry Blackaby’s book Experiencing God,one of the key phrases is: “Watch to see where God is working and join Him in His work.” It really is one of the phrases that comes back to me often. I think: “Okay, what are You doing, God? Where are You working? And what can I do to join You?” 

That’s not a formula, but it’s a guiding principle of how I approach things. You know, much of it is intentional, because people stuff doesn’t come naturally to me. I have to work at it.

Being a [Revive Our Hearts] Ambassador, we have to take the StrengthsFinder test. When you do, it sends your top five categories, and they’re put in a spreadsheet with everyone’s results. Well, of course, when the word spreadsheet is mentioned, I have to look at it. So I opened it up to see what all the other Ambassadors were, and I downloaded my own copy so that I could sort and analyze the data. 

When I saw it, I thought, “Oh, I don’t look like any of the other Ambassadors.” I’m a Maximizer. I’m an analytical person. And they’re all relational. Seeing those results, I wondered, “Is this not what I’m supposed to do?” I was a little bit concerned and questioning my role. The relational side comes naturally for the others; I’m just the opposite. I can do relational stuff, but to just start up a conversation with somebody who’s across the room that I don’t really know? Well, I have to really be nudged to do that. 

I have to be open, to be willing to let the Holy Spirit work on that in me. It’s not always going to be great. I look back sometimes and think, “I wasn’t very eloquent there. Maybe I should have asked more about that,” or “I shouldn’t have said that kind of thing.” I have all of those thoughts on the drive home. But it is what it is, and hopefully, seeds will have been planted. I have to leave that to God to let Him do the rest.

K: Why engage in hospitality if it’s not something that comes naturally to you? 

Jill: It’s a model of Christ. Christ did not hide away. The word that I have come to try to emulate is “winsome.” People wanted to be with him. 

I’m certainly not perfect at it. But you know, I try to be somebody people want to be around, and not somebody that causes people to think, “Oh, here she comes again,” or “Yeah, we’ll put up with her,” or “We have to be nice to her.” I want them to really want to talk to me, so that they’ll want to share and want to come to me to ask for prayer. I don’t think I succeed as well at that; it is not my natural thing, but it is what I work on.

K: It’s easy to think, “Well, I’m introverted,” and use our personality types as an excuse to not show hospitality. What advice would you give someone who feels like she’s not naturally bent toward being hospitable? 

Jill: That’s the part where you just have to work harder and be more intentional. You need to put more emphasis and focus on them, the ones you’re serving—instead of yourself.

This requires prayer dependence on God. I have to pray before I go places. I would even have to pray, for instance, as an Ambassador before conferences when we would call everybody about registration. I wouldn’t know if they were going to answer the phone, or if they were going to be receptive or think I’m selling something. That required a lot of prayer. 

Your personality is not a reason not to show hospitality—it just may require more effort if it’s not your natural thing.

K: What specifically do you pray? 

I pray to have the right words or to be able to listen and to have wisdom to know how to respond—what not to say, as the case may be. I ask God to help my tone to be right or even for my facial expressions. When I’m on the phone, they don’t matter as much, but they do in person. 

If somebody’s asking me a question, I can have a look that says, “That was a dumb question.” Even if I don’t say anything, sometimes you can respond with a look that is communicating what you don’t want to say. I probably don’t think it was a dumb question, but I have to ponder what you’ve said to me. While I’m pondering, I can have a thinking face that looks like I’m not pleased. I’ve been trying to work on that all my life. You know, I can be walking down the hall, going from my desk to the cafeteria. I’m probably pondering an Excel spreadsheet, and people will stop me because they see my face, and they’ll ask, “Are you okay?” And I’m like, “Yeah, why? Oh . . . I’m okay, I’m just thinking about my Excel spreadsheet.” It’s something that I have to be aware of, and it’s hard to address. But I pray that I’m not communicating the wrong message unintentionally by my facial expression or tone.

K: Will you pray for those who are reading this and looking to take the next step in extending hospitality to their own community? 

Jill: Lord, . . . help them to be willing to depend upon You to put something unfamiliar into practice, wherever You may be leading them. Help them to not just shut down thinking, “I don’t have the skill set,” or “I don’t have the time,” or “I don’t have the whatever.” Enable them to be willing to take the risk. May they be willing to make the effort to step out and to welcome people in their own world. Help us each to play our part, to the best of our ability, relying on You for everything. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Want to hear more from Jill? She shares more in the latest issue of Side by Side, our quarterly e-newsletter for women’s ministry leaders. Not signed up to receive our emails? Sign up here, and be sure to check the box for “Side by Side” to receive the next women’s ministry leader newsletter!

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