I sat on the couch sipping my favorite coffee, staring at my talkative husband as he leaned on the corner of the wall, chatting to our community group peeps. It was a wonder to me how we could go from relaxed napping on a Sunday afternoon to clean house dinner hosting by 5 pm. I surprised myself with a feeling of pleasure in my heart as I took it all in, seeing him light up the way extroverts do when people are around.
Our home felt pretty and warm and welcoming. The aroma of meat cooking on the grill had me thinking about the meal we’d share with our friends and how honestly, if Luke didn’t pursue eating together with people, most often at the last minute, I probably wouldn’t either and we’d be missing out on something really great.
I’d more often than not love to get in my pjs early and snuggle on the couch with a glass of wine and a good show and think about hospitality as something we’ll do in the future, not today. But Luke? He doesn’t plan ahead at all, and many a time while my heart is thinking of my couch, his heart is thinking of dinner and who we can share it with. Sadly, I’ve despised that about him all too often, until after the fact when I’m thankful we took the leap and had people over.
To be real, it has sometimes bothered me that it’s his idea first and that he seems to be more hospitable than I am, because shouldn’t it be my thing? Shouldn’t I as a Godly woman be more eager for hospitality and take on that role and responsibility? Are his efforts at hospitality because he’s filling in all the places that I’m lacking?
Is my guilt about this based on something true and real? Should I as a woman be more into hospitality than my husband as a man? Should I work really hard to overcome his bent towards it by trying to get in front of him and lead us in this instead of him first, because that’s what Godly women are supposed to do? Is it my womanly pride? Am I jealous?
I wonder if the confusion in my heart about this hospitality thing and our roles has stemmed from the teaching I’ve gotten over the years, which often times encourages women to pursue Godliness, and one of the ways is to show hospitality to others. Good teaching, right? Except maybe it was missing a vitally important message that instead of leaving me feeling hopeful about sharing meals and my home with others, left me feeling like I needed to be wholly in charge of the pursuit of hospitality and it felt more like a burden.
Maybe it became a type of check list for me of “things Godly women do,” instead of an outflowing of a heart that loves people and wants to share our heart and home with them. And maybe it was because I had a false view of hospitality and I only had ever heard it linked to the traits of a Godly woman, and not the traits of a Godly man.
I feel certain I’ve never heard a lesson on hospitality directed towards men, and so I have always believed it was my role, except I kept failing at it because my husband keeps taking the lead and pushing us into inviting people over and sharing meals and helping plan for it. It’s supposed to be me! You’re taking away something I can check off of my list! I’m supposed to want this and do this!
But instead of me feeling guilt over not performing my Godly womanly duties well enough, what if in actuality, my husband is the one doing the Biblical thing and leading us in hospitality after all? What if I’ve struggled to rise to the occasion because I’ve felt inadequate for the task because that might be how it’s actually supposed to be–men leading their families to be hospitable and to taking a vital lead in it instead of sitting on the couch and watching it transpire.
Maybe God intended it all along to be a beautiful integration of our manly and womanly gifts, and maybe it’s best expressed when our husband’s are desirous of being hospitable and take an active role in it. Maybe when we are doing what the Bible actually says about hospitality and who it’s for, it’ll bring God the most glory and in turn will bring us the most joy, instead of stress and burn out.
Luke may enjoy the process of cooking and sharing and inviting, but he’s also fulfilling an extremely important role that is addressed in Scripture directly towards men, especially when listing out the roles for deacons and elders, about being hospitable. The Bible calls men who are potential candidates for eldership to hospitality in the same breath that it calls them to be the husband of one wife and to be able to teach, to be just and holy and self-controlled (see 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:7-9)
If this calling is important enough to make a man qualified to be an elder, important enough to be in the same list as being able to teach, I’d say it’s important enough for all men to aspire to, as it’s literally on the checklist for being a Godly man (just to be clear, I don’t believe in putting our Godliness into a checklist, at. all.)
Hospitality is a character trait of not just a Godly man, but a Christian in general (see Romans 12:13), so when there is a married couple, hospitality could actually collide and explode into an awesome blessing as both of us are following the Christian life, and it seems that the best way for it to be a blessing to others is if the Christian husband is leading these efforts.
Okay, if you are starting to think nasty thoughts towards your husband, just cut it out. I don’t want this to make you mad that he never helps out or to make you start complaining about the burden of hospitality. I don’t want you to look at the qualifications of an elder and get all cynical about it, that your husband would never meet up to those standards. We all may have some of our ideas about our roles mixed up, including you. This is a walk of grace, we are all on this journey of sanctification together, and this is merely one aspect of it.
But maybe you as a woman need the gentle reminder not to feel so heavily burdened by hospitality, as though it’s your burden to carry alone. And maybe you can start to see it not as a burden at all, but as something to be truly enjoyed, if you can think of it as a team sport and not an individual sport.
Sometimes hospitality can be romanticized into this beautiful thing and maybe it hasn’t been that way for you, but maybe this can give you hope that it can be a joy someday, when you begin to understand your actual Biblical role in it and your husband begins to understand his.
There. I’ve said it. I’ve up and called men to action in hospitality. If you want I can bring Luke into the conversation and have him talk to your men about it, but here I go stirring up all sorts of trouble…
(For single women, or women with non-believing husbands, we can talk about how hospitality can apply to you later, because in no way do I want to leave you out or imply that you can’t be hospitable because you don’t have a husband or a Godly husband, but we’ll save that for another discussion.)