Today I had a great talk with my friend Caroline, the Director of Children’s Ministries at my church. A couple of her kids are students of mine and so we were talking about the funny things that happen when they bring their friends over to hang out. In the middle of it she shared what I thought was an important realization about God’s gifts and the nature of hospitality. I’ve asked her if I could share it with my blog readers and so she kindly wrote it up for me.
I had a revelation a few weeks back. You see my family and I live in a small (under 1400 square feet) home in Santa Ana. I have loved and been thankful for our house of 3 years since day one–but I have not been proud of it–apologetic may have been a better word for how I felt when friends (who literally live in the pages of a Pottery Barn catalog) would stop by. And if I were to be totally honest, I avoided anyone coming to my house and have even been known for waiting at the gate when expecting someone to stop by to pick me up.
Then a few weeks ago my daughter invited several of her friends over for dinner and an evening of games and movies. Each of these amazing young adults has quite a story of redemption–coming out of many unhealthy and ungodly situations and clearly and dramatically saved for God’s purpose and God’s glory. They grew up in houses that included drugs, gangs, and a lot of darkness. That evening each one blessed me by complementing our home–my favorite was when one young woman exclaimed, “it’s just like a page from a Target catalog!” Laughing I looked at her and then around at my miss-matched furniture (everything bought second-hand or given to us by friends), the tiny kitchen, dusty shelves, stacks of papers and said “thank you.” I truly appreciated that she was speaking from her heart–I wondered what her home growing up had been like, and I recognized all that God had blessed our family with. My sense of pride grew in what God had given us–in a house and the atmosphere inside it.
-Caroline Elias, Director of Children’s Ministries at Trinity United Presbyterian
Caroline’s basically said it all, but I just want to make a couple of points clear:
- Hospitality can happen anywhere–even your home. You don’t need to have a massive, showroom style house to have people over and bless them. That can happen anywhere. In fact, two of the most hospitable people I know are a couple of newly-weds who live in a back-house the size of an apartment who have over 10-15 young adults for dinner every week.
- As a rule we tend to compare ourselves to those with more, rather than to those with less. This doesn’t necessarily make us ungrateful or resentful. Sometimes it just robs of the joy of realizing how truly blessed and fortunate we really are. Having a Target house is a joy from the Lord, just as much as a Pottery Barn house.
Soli Deo Gloria
P.S. Bonus point because I’m a college pastor: there is a blessing that comes with college ministry. Sure there’s a blessing with every ministry, but honestly, sometimes it’s as easy as having a couple of students from your church over for dinner and listening to their stories.