There are many benefits of reading books! It has been the most impactful discipline to help my hospitality. Here are 3 ways I believe it can do the same for you!
One Story in Defense of Reading
We had all heard it. An uninformed podcaster spoke with surety on a subject he knew little about. He was overly confident in his speech and told others, who had actually walked the road, how they should feel.
I was disgusted.
I knew he was dreadfully misguided and downright arrogant.
But the truth is, so was I just a few short years ago. I thought I knew about this particular subject, which is laughable now. I had no idea when I spoke freely how little I actually knew.
I saw life through my eyes only. Although I certainly didn’t think that is what I was doing.
I still remember the moment I knew how limited my perspective really was. It was like I had been standing looking down at a mud puddle thinking that was all the water near me. Then I looked up and saw Niagara Falls. I was in shock. How little I understood!
My moment of clarity came from an audio book I was listening to. A letter was included and I agreed with EVERYTHING that was said. Then the authors took the letter and turned it on its head. They went line by line through what the woman said and how it showed her perspective and yes… her privilege.
I was instantly embarrassed.
I saw the enormous waterfall of other perspectives and I was humbled.
I felt like an idiot. A book gave me that.
So, I sat with a table full of close friends as they talked through the pain this podcaster had caused them with his loose words and pride and instead of rising up to agree with him, I grieved for their challenge.
I saw them.
And a book gave me that.
So, if you are interested in growing in your hospitality, it is genuinely my belief that the discipline of reading will be one of your biggest aids! Let me tell you why I say that…
3 Benefits of Reading Books and How that Helps Hospitality
1. Reading Makes you sit long in the perspective of others
Whether you recognize it or not, you approach life from a very distinct perspective. Where you grew up, who you spend time with, what you believe, and a whole host of other factors contribute to the person you are and your perspective on life.
That isn’t a bad thing. It’s just reality.
That can, however, pose a problem for hospitality. If you host someone who comes from an entirely different perspective with political, religious, and lifestyle differences, it can be awkward at best.
That is where books come in. Reading books gives us the opportunity to sit long in the perspective of other people. Books force us to listen even when we want to issue a quick rebuttal. The author is not in the room with you. The author does not care whether or not you agree with him or her. The author is giving you their perspective and, if you continue in it, you have to deal with the entirety of that perspective.
Social media interactions simply CANNOT offer you this. They are tiny snippets into someone else’s perspective and they have value but, they do not give you the opportunity to listen long without being heard.
On many occasions last year I sat across the table from brothers and sisters who were of different ethnic backgrounds than I am. Each time I heard a little of their perspective and we talked it through. I listened but I did so with different ears than I would have a few years before.
I have been intentionally immersing myself in the writing of people who come from different perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences than I do.
And the more time I spend doing this, the more I realize how little I know.
I am only an authority on my own perspective. I am still learning about everyone else’s.
My table has been a beautiful place for me to do this but I can say with 100% certainty that I would have said many more uninformed and even unintentionally hurtful things to these friends gathered in my home if I was not taking the time to learn and be humbled.
I believe in absolute truth. The Truth of Scripture does not change based on perspective but I am much more capable of walking in compassion, kindness, and humility if I spend my time immersed in the perspectives of those I may disagree with.
Because it informs my perspective in a way I cannot answer back, reading makes me a better host.
2. Reading gives you something to talk about
If you host people regularly, it will not be long before you run into this problem — sometimes there just isn’t anything to talk about.
Some of us are better at small talk than others but all of us have been there. We want to interact with this new person but we just don’t have any idea what to say!
Books to the rescue!
Decorating your home with books is a great way to start conversations as people look around at what these books say about you.
And books give you the opportunity to talk about a million things.
Because of the books that I read last year I have been able to have informed conversations about diet, the plight of orphans worldwide, worship, theology, classic literature, business, hospitality, Christian living, cooking, adoption, motherhood, the church, history, politics, and suffering (to name a few).
Reading makes me a better host because it gives me something to talk about and allows me to speak with some intelligence on a wide variety of topics.
3. Reading equips you with resources to help others
I am asked to make book recommendations by guests in my home, readers of this blog, personal friends, and fellow members of my church on an almost daily basis. Because I love to read a variety of writers on a variety of subjects, I am able to answer these requests with confidence knowing that the things I recommend will be genuinely helpful.
I am not an authority on every subject, of course, and you can stump me anytime I’m sure but the more I read the better I am at making these resource recommendations.
A few months ago, a newer friend of mine was in my home talking about her desire to learn how to study Scripture. Another friend from church is working one on one with her but I was able to hand her my copy of Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin because I knew that would able to answer so many questions and help her in her journey!
Just last week a friend asked for what motherhood related books I would recommend and I was able to share a small list of my favorite resources for parenting.
(If you want an idea of what I recommended to her, check out this post)
I have been able to walk through many amazing resources with friends in my home one on one. And I have also been able to recommend resources to many more people.
Reading makes me a better host because it equips me with resources that I can encourage others to dive into when they are facing a specific issue.
Reading is a Critical Discipline to Help Your Hospitality
It really is impossible to state just how much reading can do for your hospitality journey. It is the single most helpful discipline in my daily life for my own spiritual good (God obviously loves books since that is how He chose to communicate with us!). It is also the single most helpful discipline in my daily life for inspiring and fueling my hospitality.
Don’t wait to start hosting until you feel you are able to speak with authority on a million issues (you won’t get there, trust me!) but do start reading great books right away! And then listen, as your guests pour out their hearts to you and tell you what they are struggling with, read about those topics. Inform your own heart with the issues that you have been surrounded with.
If you are looking for recommendations about where to start, check out these post and feel free to email me if you want specific recommendations!
Have you ever had an experience like this? Any books that you would recommend for me? Have there been particular books that have been a blessing to you and have given you opportunities to bless others? Let me know in the comments!