Flunking Hospitality 101

“ It is not important that we recognize God in the stranger; God is there whether we notice or not!  We can just assume the fact and do the next thing – accept the stranger!"
~Benedict’s Way of Love :  Father Daniel Homan & Lonni Collins Pratt

My Rule of Life throughout the last few years has centered around exploring the communal life of hospitality.

Having our friends from Colombia stay with us has certainly been a gift to continue growing in this spiritual discipline.

I came across a post from a couple of years ago recounting some of my more humbling experiences along the way.

For those who can relate to the challenges of hospitality...this post is for you.

Flunking Hospitality 101

Have you ever desired to be truly good at something and then found yourself receiving a failing grade?

Well that is me in the area of hospitality.  
On the outside I look like an A + 

I welcome people into our home = A+

I take them to see the sights  = A+

I prepare special meals for our guests = B+
I give myself a B+ as I am not the best cook in the world, but I try!

I even have the ultimate guest basket with every delightful thing imaginable that our guests may need throughout their stay
  = A++   

I have also studied countless books on the subject - so w
here could I have gone so wrong?

This is the beautiful thing about house-guests

 - no matter how lovely they are and no matter how much you wanted them to stay with you in the first place - they have the capacity to expose the true condition of the heart.

*Note of warning to all those who want to explore the spiritual discipline of hospitality ...

you must be willing to confront the perfectionist inside of you.

Order, cleanliness and control go out the window.

As I embarked on this path, selfish attitudes I never knew existed quickly began to rear its ugly head.

The need to control my own environment, time and belongings became painfully evident.

Please… someone admit this has also happened to you so I don’t feel so bad!  

One evening I watched one of our guests accidentally spill some sauce on the wood table and rug down below.

I knew they could see the sauce, yet I could not comprehend why they would not want to wipe it up. 
Could they not see the pretty little napkins that I had thoughtfully placed on the coffee table right in front of them? 

Despite my slight irritation over the "sauce incident" I refused to let this discourage me from my pursuit to become this serene Benedictine Presbyterian hostess.

So I calmly repeated Benedict's way like some sort of holy mantra...

"Assume that God is in the stranger Nicole!"

"Assume that God is in the stranger!"

Truth be told, I still couldn't help but think to myself... could God really be this messy?

A few days later I went upstairs to provide fresh sheets and noticed that something in the room had been broken.  Although I tried to play it cool I could feel the anxiety rising up again inside of me.

What bothered me even more was when I shared these concerns with my husband.  As I looked to Ken for some consolation on these important matters he had the audacity to simply smile and shrug his shoulders.

Extremely helpful!

Much to my chagrin I knew he was right ~  you can’t control what is already done, so let it go!

Side bar ....

Let me just openly acknowledge that the phrase "let it go" is still a foreign concept to me.  That could be a whole blog series.  The Disney Frozen soundtrack, Let It Go will likely never be my personal theme song.

Back to the story ...

Our guests had made plans to be out for dinner so Ken and I were looking forward to Chinese leftovers while binge watching a new favourite on Netflix.  We sat down together and guess who decided to come home early for dinner?

Instead of being grateful to have more time together I was selfishly disappointed that our plans were now altered for the evening.

If only I could learn to fully surrender my time and plans into God's hands.
The irony is that when this beloved family returned home I missed them so much!  

The Benedictine way warns us that true hospitality

  "will entail a cost and risk of availability and vulnerability."

That is what makes Christ the ultimate host.

For our sake He became vulnerable.

He paid the ultimate cost with His life in order to graciously welcome us as His own.

Despite being the King of Kings He makes Himself available and completely accessible.

In Christ we also find true belonging.

Have you ever been somewhere where it became evident that you were not really wanted or welcome?

Have you ever been intentionally excluded from a place you thought you belonged?

Have you ever felt like you had to earn your way in order to be accepted and loved?

With Christ we are never treated as an outsider or an inconvenient interruption.

His kindness is not dependent on our behaviour nor does He demand something back from us in return.  

Christ delights to welcome and embrace us as His very own.

He graciously meets each one of us where we are at.

He offers unconditional acceptance, patience and love in our weakness.

When we welcome people into our lives it becomes next to impossible to keep up appearances for very long.  Our own quirks, struggles and imperfections become exposed for others to see. 

It is in this authentic vulnerable exchange that we learn how to give and receive the love of Christ in our brokenness.
The security found in Christ through His hospitality is the sweet spot that enables true transformation to happen in our lives.

We can be completely naked before Him.  There is no need for pretence or fear of condemnation.

Vulnerability becomes yet another precious gift from our Father above to experience the various forms of His grace.

Hospitality enables us to see Christ and ourselves for who we truly are.

So forget the Martha Stewart guest baskets and clean sheets and instead let's open wide our hearts for who God places along our path this week.

“ Hospitality enables you to joyfully make room for another inside your open heart."
~Benedict’s Way of Love :  Father Daniel Homan & Lonni Collins Pratt


  1. Oh my goodness, I can so relate to this. My gift of hospitality is actually a way of hiding from intimacy with people--while I'm busy serving, the pressure is off, but when folks come to stay, as they have, frequently--aaargh--I go crazy within a few days. I have so many less than proud moments. It's within community that our rough edges are smoothed off, but it isn't a pleasant process! Lol. :)

  2. I confess I am also the one to hide out in the kitchen to avoid not knowing what to say in the conversation. Thanks for affirming that I am not alone in this struggle. Hospitality is certainly a gift, but you are right - it is not without its humbling rough moments.

  3. I just found out that we are billeting a summer student for 6 weeks. :) I don't even know her name, but she's arriving at 8.00 p.m. tomorrow. Another adventure. :) And I'm sure we'll all be blessed. :)

  4. You will be blessed and you will be a blessing as you open your home and heart. To think that God planned this specific student to be billeted at your home with your family...I wonder what He has in store?


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