I get questions like this quite often:
- “What is a man’s role in hospitality?”
- “How come only women seem to be talking about hospitality?”
- “I want to be hospitable but my husband isn’t sure what his role would be.”
- “Are there any good resources I can point the men in my life to about why hospitality matters for them?”
So I asked my husband to begin to address some of those concerns for me and he showed up in a big way!
True to his style, this post is both rich in Scripture and filled with practical points. And I just know you are going to love it!
Share it with your churches and the men in your lives. They will be glad you did.
Disheartening Statistics and the Man Who Helped
As I look back on my own life nearing the end of high school and the beginning of college, I see only one reason that I have not contributed to that statistic – God’s grace. He kept me!
But, like so many areas in life, God chose to accomplish this through the hands of His people – the church. God kept me through the relationships I had with other Christians.
How a Faithful Man Taught Me Hospitality
Each week Ted was there, greeting me with a smile just like he did everyone who came. Ted knew I wanted to attend a prayer meeting on those evenings but with an hour’s drive, it wasn’t practical. So during each Bible study, he would ask if I wanted to come over to his house. That way I didn’t have to drive home and come back. I would always accept.
When we arrived at his house, his wife would ask me if I wanted food before she even said hello. After lunch, we would work around his house maintaining his massive garden or working in his woodshop.
After an afternoon of hard work, Ted would tell me he was taking a nap. If I wanted to eat, food was available in the refrigerator, a shower, or an extra bed were also mine to use; whatever I needed to feel at home.
This isn’t something you normally see; a teenager and a person in their 70s spending time together each week and becoming friends. But that’s exactly what happened.
During our Wednesdays together Ted never taught me systematic theology or how to parse Greek words. He did, however, invest time talking to me, asking hard questions about my life, listening to me, loving me, and bringing me along in his everyday life so that I could see Christianity modeled.
As I have thought about Ted, I’ve realized he was a man who modeled hospitality to me. There was always an open door, food, shower or bed at his place. I got to glimpse the life of the man who welcomed everyone at church with a hug. Hospitality saturated his life as a result of his love for God and God’s people.
So why did I stay in the church?
I never really wanted to leave the church, I had relationships with men like Ted who loved me, corrected me, and constantly encouraged me.
I tell you this story because my wife has asked me to write about hospitality from a man’s perspective.
I think many men, when they hear the word hospitality think that it is a topic for women, with little relevance for them. I’d like to suggest that this is far from the case. I want to prove that hospitality is not only for men, it is commanded for men just as much as for women.
What is Hospitality?
For many of us, the first things that come to mind when we hear the word “hospitality” are things like recipes, decorating, and themed parties. Those are valuable avenues and components of hospitality but, they are not hospitality in and of themselves. If this is what hospitality is then I would be the first one to say “it’s not for me.”
Instead, hospitality is a constant attitude of welcome. It’s the desire to cultivate community. It’s an expression of the welcome that God has extended to us lost ruined sinners in the gospel when he welcomed us (Romans 15:7). And certainly, that is just as applicable, needed, and commanded for men as it is for women.
Does the Bible Say Hospitality is for Men?
We will see that Biblical hospitality is not just for women, but rather for both men and women. Hospitality is a mandate that knows no gender boundaries or distinctions.
1. 1 Timothy 3:1-7
In 1 Tim 3:1-7 Paul lays out the qualifications of an overseer which, in the New Testament, is a synonym for a pastor or elder. It is helpful to notice all of the masculine language. In verses 4-7 alone, the pronoun “he” or “his” is used 9 times.
Notice also that an overseer must be the husband of one wife, which could be translated, a “one-woman man”. Clearly what is in mind in this passage is a man.
As you read through this passage you will notice one of the qualifications of a pastor is that they must be hospitable. A pastor must be hospitable. Now you may say, “well I’m not a pastor” but before you think that gets you off the hook, consider why God has given pastors to the church.
God gave pastors to the church not only to teach but to show/model what the teaching looks like in our daily lives. The reason 1 Tim 3 lays out so much about their character is that they are to set forth a walking example of what the Christian life looks like.
All of the characteristics found in this section are things God expects of all people (other than the ability to teach). God wants pastors to be hospitable so that other Christians will follow suit.
In a list that could have been pages long, God’s Spirit has Paul put down hospitality because pastors are to have their homes open so that other Christians will follow.
2. Romans 15:7 & 1 Peter 4:9
The second line of evidence that hospitality is for men as well as women can be found in the books of Romans and 1 Peter.
In Romans, Paul addresses the letter “To all those who are in Rome” (1:7). This certainly consists of both men and women. So, everything he is about to say is to be applied to both sexes equally unless he makes a clear distinction. Notice, in chapter 15:7 no gender distinction is made, so Paul commands the church (all who are in Rome- men and women) to welcome one another, as Christ has welcomed us.
1 Peter is similarly addressed to both men and women whom Peter calls the “elect exiles (1 Pet. 1:1). What’s interesting about 1 Peter is that there is a section directly addressing women (3:1-6), and a section directly addressing men (3:7). So Peter makes it easy for us to know when he has something in mind directly for men or women. Chapter 4 makes no such distinction, so we know that Peter has both sexes in mind when he commands us to “show hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9).
Again, like Romans, the command for hospitality is given to men and women equally.
If Hospitality is Not Just Recipes and Decorations, What is It? Where Can I Start?
I regularly seek out people to have in our home. I usually talk to my wife and ask what nights we are free in the coming week, and then I ask people at church if they are free on that night to come over.
I can’t tell you how many times over the years I have heard people say they have never been invited to another person’s house.
I don’t know how to cook, but I can extend an invite. If you’re single and hate to cook, order pizza.
Remember, people are not coming to be critical of our efforts, they are coming to see us. Who cares if it’s just pizza on napkins?
2. Keep an Eye Out for Newcomers
Very closely tied to the first, intentionally look for new people at church or in your neighborhood.
Visiting a new church can be hard! Not knowing anyone or where to go or how things operate is tough. It is so comforting to be greeted and talked to by current members who will introduce themselves to visitors!
Our family has always tried to go a bit further by asking visitors if they have plans for lunch after the service.
My wife and I started doing this after we went on vacation to D.C and visited Capitol Hill Baptist Church. Within a few minutes, we were welcomed by people seated near us, they asked us if we would be interested in going to lunch with them. After we agreed, we were approached by at least 5 other people.
I have never felt so welcomed as a church visitor. So we decided to start doing this as a practice in our local church.
3. Share Your Blessings
Find things that the Lord has blessed you with that others need. I love to work with young adults and college students. One thing that many apartments and dorm rooms lack, or at least don’t have enough of, is laundry. In our home we have a washer and dryer, so we put out a standing invitation for anyone who needs to use them.
Some of my most life-giving relationships were started because we were able to meet needs. Maybe for you, you can give rides, tutor, or let people borrow tools. Whatever it may be, if we have an open hand with our stuff and our time and simply seek to use it to bless others, God can do amazing things.
4. Stop Making Excuses
We can come up with a million reasons hospitality is hard – “my house is not clean enough”, “it’s too small”, etc.
Let me tell you a story of a man in our church several years ago. This man lived in government housing, in a small studio apartment, yet he never made that an excuse.
Each Sunday night he would open his home and invite anyone from his building or our church who wanted to come over and watch baseball. This wasn’t because he liked baseball, it was actually because a brother in our church, who had no TV, liked baseball. He wanted to give this brother a place to watch.
Each Sunday there was an open door to all and the place filled up quickly. Baseball was more background noise than anything. The night was filled with sharing food, laughs, and open Bibles. I think there was more evangelism and discipleship during baseball nights than the rest of the week combined.
Over time, baseball night turned into a time of prayer, reading, bearing each other’s burdens, and inviting unchurched people in to hear about Christ.
This was all because a man was willing to open a small studio apartment to whoever wanted to come.
Maybe that’s the best place for men to begin; open the door and see who comes. You will probably be amazed at what happens.
Is Hospitality Gender-Specific?
So, is hospitality for men?
If we want to faithfully live out all that God has called us to then we must say “yes.”
Our churches so desperately need men to be in deeper community, to be more involved in each other’s lives, to share each other’s burdens! This will not happen if we do not open our homes and lives to each other.
Who knows? Maybe your hospitality will be used to help others be more like Christ, come to know Christ, or even be the means of grace by which God keeps another brother or sister walking with the Lord.
I thank God for bringing Ted into my life when he did and I know his simple hospitality helped me not become a statistic.