In this series of blog posts, I am sharing with you some lessons I’ve learned from a lifetime of opening my heart and home to countless hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals. I believe that each one came across my pathway as a gift from God. Extending hospitality has both natural and learned qualities to it. Let me continue to share some of what I’ve learned.
Nothing is lovelier to me than filling our lives with people we love: with our children and families, with neighbors, with Christian friends. Upon making new acquaintances my first instinct is to bring them home: to flood our home and lives with humanity—its voices, its forms, its ideas, its beauty, its brokenness.
“Now, Sweet, be careful,” my father used to warn. “You don’t want to break your health.” Hollow words, since I have come to discover that he himself was so much the source of this inexplicable inward code—this strict openness of heart and home to all people. Wasn’t it he who literally raised me on the tale of the circuit-riding preacher?
This story illustrated my father’s standard of courtesy, or hospitality in practice. We entered no one’s home without a reiteration. We were to eat all that was offered. We were not to make comments about food we didn’t like. We were to remember the traveling minister who stopped for a drink of water.
While riding in the hill country, this man reined in his horse before a ramshackle cottage nestling against the back of a mountain. A little old woman finally responded to his “halloo” and was overwhelmed by her prestigious visitor. Refusing to allow him to draw his own water from the well, she made a great fuss about doing it for him.
When he took the tin cup from her hand and lifted it to draw a long draught, he realized a tiny toad was swimming in the dregs. (This animal often grew from tadpole to frog depending on my father’s evaluation of the needed emphasis.) Rather than embarrass his hostess, this gallant gentleman gulped the contents complete, gave thanks, and continued on his way.
With adult’s eyes I admit the tale is a bit farfetched—I have long ago notified this particular parent of my evaluation—but as a child I was so impressed with this strict code of courtesy that if a similar opportunity had afforded itself, I, too, would have swallowed the toad!
Do you have some childhood stories that have shaped your response in social situations? I’m quite certain that you do. Extending hospitality to others comes from a whole series of our own life experiences. If you would like to read some of my experiences that have shaped a lifetime of extending Christian hospitality, I invite you to come back to this blog and read more.
Through her Hungry Souls ministry, Karen Mains serves as a spiritual coach to many Christian women and men, and teaches a mentor-writing class. And, through the Global Bag Project, she is working to develop a network of African women who sew exquisite cloth reusable shopping bags. This micro-finance women opportunity helps provide a much-needed sustainable income for struggling African families. For more information on this critically important project, please click here.
Karen has long had an interest in Christian hospitality and is the author of the best-selling book, Open Heart, Open Home.
An award-winning author of several other books, Karen continues to write content for her Christian blog, “Thoughts-by-Karen-Mains.” In so doing, she desires to touch the lives of Christian women and men and help them find ways to walk closer with the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, through silent retreats, spiritual teaching, women’s retreats, Christian vacation opportunities, and other ministry activities, Karen helps each Christian woman and man receive vital spiritual food.
For decades, Karen and her husband, David, have served God through religious communications—radio, television, and print publication. The are the co-authors of the Kingdom Tales Trilogy: Tales of the Kingdom, Tales of the Resistance, and Tales of the Restoration. To find many valuable resources for pastors and churches at the Mainstay Ministries main website, please click here.
Likewise, pastors will find special resources to help them prepare effective, life-transforming Sunday sermons by visiting David Mains’ website by clicking here.