The Introvert’s Guide to Hospitality

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If you knew me in real life, you would say that I tend to be reserved. You might even suggest that I’m not an easy person to get to know.

You would probably be right.

If you didn’t know me very well, you may actually believe that I’m a snobby person or that I think I’m better than other people.

Nothing is further from the truth, though I can understand why you might get that impression.

If you knew me and my husband, you would clearly see that I’m pretty much the opposite of his life-of-the-party personality.

It’s not that I don’t like people, and it’s not that I don’t like spending time with them.

I do like it, and I would like it even better if it weren’t so exhausting.

Early in our marriage, I wondered at this discrepancy in my personality and my husband’s. Why was he so energized after a large gathering, while I was so depleted?

In recent years, I’ve learned that there’s a word to describe these tendencies of my temperament.

I’m introverted.

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As a Christian with an introverted personality, I’ve grappled long and hard with some of the Bible’s teachings.

Like the one about first-century believers meeting together daily for encouragement and fellowship. (Acts 2:42-47)

Or the one highlighting the importance of entertaining strangers. (Hebrews 13:1-2)

Or the one exemplifying a willingness to offer shelter and make provision for God’s servants. (2 Kings 4)

Hospitality is a term we can apply to all of these habits. It’s a Christian mandate, evidence of our love for strangers and friends, offering opportunities to live out the gospel in relationship with people.

Knowing this to be true, and accepting its truth for me – regardless of my natural inclinations otherwise – I have learned several keys to making hospitality possible (and enjoyable!) for me…

and perhaps also for you who would say with me, “I’m not really a ‘people person.'”

Keys to Hospitality for the Introvert

Be Flexible

Have you ever noticed that when someone says, “That’s just the way I am,” they’re almost always referring to a negative trait? For the Christian, it’s freeing to know that God loves us just as we are and that He loves us too much to let us stay that way. Most personality traits come with both advantages and disadvantages, and it’s important to be willing to make adjustments when the less positive aspects of our natural personality interfere with our obedience to God.

Pray for Yourself

Thank God for making you the way He did. Acknowledge to Him the benefits as well as the challenges of the personality He gave you, and ask Him to give you a willing and obedient heart. Ask Him to help you be aware of sinful attitudes like pride or selfishness that make hospitality even harder. Pray that He would lead your steps as you pursue hospitality.

Establish a Plan

Typically, what doesn’t get planned doesn’t get done. For introverts, hospitality must be intentional or it simply won’t happen. Whether it’s weekly, monthly, or quarterly, schedule particular times when you will open your home to those in need of encouragement and fellowship.

Know Your Boundaries

Many factors can affect the frequency and types of gatherings you’re able to host. If you’re new to showing hospitality, start small and build from there. Don’t compare your hospitality with the hospitality of others; those with a natural inclination toward hospitality will have a different style, and that’s okay! It doesn’t make your hospitality efforts less valuable or worthwhile.

Branch Out

It’s easy to think of hospitality solely in terms of gathering with friends. But the Bible makes a point of emphasizing the importance of entertaining strangers and caring for God’s servants, as well. And what about the new members of your church, or acquaintances you’ve greeted in passing for years but have never taken the time to really know? True hospitality isn’t a cloak for strengthening our cliques or heightening the walls between BFF’s and the rest of the world. Be a Christ-follower whose hand is extended and whose door is open to all.

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Enlist Help

If the preparation of a gathering is overwhelming for you, ask your husband, your children, a close friend, or a family member for their help. Delegating tasks and receiving help from others doesn’t take away from the hospitality you’re offering; it merely spreads around the blessing that accompanies a spirit of hospitality, allowing others to experience that blessing with you.

Be Imperfect

Some of us fall very short of the Martha Stewart-esque ideals of hospitality. We recognize that our homes aren’t Pinterest-perfect, and neither is our food, and in fact neither are we! But hospitality is not about perfection; it’s about creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for fellowship – and a less-than-perfect environment can often accomplish that goal even better than a perfect one.

Plan to Speak Life

Proverbs teaches us that death and life are in the power of the tongue (18:21). Spend some time considering how you can speak life and blessing to the hearts of your guests. What thoughtful questions can you ask them? What genuine compliment can you offer? What verse of Scripture or personal testimony can you share? While it’s important to refrain from forcing a conversation according to your own agenda, having a few ideas available can help you be purposeful about the encouragement you impart to others.

Remember the Blessings

When the people have been invited and the food prepared and you’re waiting for that first knock on the door, you may sense some anxiety as the event looms close. Here are a few snippets of truth I rehearse to myself to steer my heart toward warmth and hospitality:

“I always enjoy conversing with people once an event is underway.”

“God is bringing across my path someone who needs some encouragement today.”

“Being hospitable, even when I don’t feel like it, is an act of spiritual worship.”

“Living outside my comfort zone will bring growth.”

“Showing hospitality is a powerful gospel witness to the unsaved.”

“Being hospitable will allow me to strengthen relationships today, which will build up the body of Christ.”

“I’ve been given so much; today I get to share just a small part of those blessings with others.”

Allow Time for Rest

It takes some time for an introvert to recover from the pressures and challenges of being a hostess. Taking some quiet time to rest following an event is a legitimate need for those with introverted personalities, so plan for that need as much as possible.

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Being the introverted wife of an extroverted husband has posed some challenges for me along the way. But as is the case with all challenges when coupled with a hefty dose of God’s grace, I’ve done a lot of growing in the process.

Do you have an introverted personality? Do you struggle with being hospitable? Which of these ideas most resonates with you, and why?

 

Want more encouragement in your Christian walk?

My 30-day devotional, Drawing Near: 30 Days Toward Intimacy With God, is now available on Amazon! Drawing Near 3D cover

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15 thoughts on “The Introvert’s Guide to Hospitality

  1. Julie

    As a fellow introvert, this post really blessed me! I loved your points, especially about making time for rest after an event and praying beforehand. So true! I also loved how you reminded us not to compare our hospitality efforts with those of someone else who thrives on social engagements. We really can follow the Biblical commandments of hospitality even if it’s not something that comes as naturally to use as it does to others.

    Reply
    • Meri S.

      You’ve described me to a “T”. Being an introverted pastor’s wife has its MANY challenges. However, I love how God continues to grow me and stretch me when it comes to practicing hospitality.
      Thank you for an excellent article. I can always use the help. It also helps knowing that I’m not the only one. 😊

      Reply
  2. JR

    You are always the life of my party ! Thanks for being a likable person, and a person that people love being around. People are always so refreshed and blessed when they spend any amount of time with you ! From your husband J.R.

    Reply
  3. Sarah Jean

    Jennifer,

    I was going to write a post with the EXACT same title, but not sure I can improve upon yours – it was excellent. Obviously I am also an introvert but I loved your thoughts about remaining flexible (growth) planning (this is key) and having a time for rest after. Even though it doesn’t come naturally to us, we are still called to be hospitable. I will be sharing this later on my facebook page!

    Reply
  4. Pam Collins

    I am a co-introvert. For the longest time I thought there was just something wrong with me, but eventually I learned that God created me as an introvert, and that He doesn’t make mistakes. It has been, and continues to be a journey. I am a sponge always learning from others the “services” that they do for others and am always pleased when I learn something that is a good fit for my personality. It may be something as simple as baking cookies for an elderly neighbor or sending someone a card. I want to be open to growing and being used of the Lord in whatever way He chooses.

    My husband of 2 1/2 years is the exact opposite. He is the fun loving extrovert. I find this very challenging at times, but God is growing me each day and I know that He will use the two of our personalities in an extraordinary way for His purposes.

    Reply
    • Jennifer Clarke Post author

      Pam, thank you for sharing from your experience. Yes, if you will persevere through the occasional conflict, you and your husband will find that your lives are enhanced by your differing personalities.

      Reply
  5. Kela Nellums

    Ah yes! “Remember the blessing” is what I had to remind myself of this past Saturday!
    My super extrovert husband and I (super introvert) have weekly date nights. Most of the time its with another couple. I LOVE THAT!!
    This past week though, we hosted another couple that came in from the neighboring town (only 2 hrs. away).
    I don’t know if the right word is “obligated” or not, but that MAY be how I felt when dinner out lasted almost 4 hours!!!!
    Me, sitting there just listening to a totally one-sided conversation.
    It quickly wore me out and I felt something welling up in me that I didn’t like; total impatience with my husband!!

    I did let him know the next day that I was actually starting to feel anxious and about to claw my way out of the restaurant if we didn’t leave any sooner. He said, “I’m sorry that you don’t like people.” He was laughing as he said it, and then apologized for being inconsiderate of my personality.

    We do open our home every other week for small group Bible study and knowing that its a “timed” event, I know how to “ration out” my time to not get overwhelmed. I actually enjoy that time and look forward to it!

    Reply
    • Jennifer Clarke Post author

      “Obligated” – oh, how I’ve been there! But following through on the obligation with a good attitude (ah, that’s often the hard part for me!) is where we receive a blessing that accompanies our willingness to prefer others over ourselves. I appreciate your idea of “rationing time.” I think that’s a practical way of looking at it. Thank you for sharing here!

      Reply
  6. Joelle Povolni

    Jennifer,

    Some great ideas on thriving as an introvert as we show hospitality to others. It definitely stretches you and grows you for sure. As you mentioned, allowing time to rest afterwards is key. I’ve found alone time refreshes me so that I will want to be around people again and actually enjoy it.

    Thanks for the encouragement!

    Reply
  7. Vanessa

    Great piece with helpful points for this introvert. Having moved into a new and very social neighborhood, I’m being stretched, and this article is a great encouragement.

    Reply
  8. Kelly

    I can completely relate. I do love to have people over to our home, though, but feel pressure to keep the conversation going and I am not good at it until we get into a topic of some kind. Do you have any ideas (or do your readers) on how to not be awkward in conversation? I am a deep thinker and have a rich interior life but I am rarely able to bring that out and share it with others. I am just fine asking others questions and would love some good ideas there, and also how to transition from one part of the visit to another. I am hung up on practicalities! 🙂

    Thank you!

    Reply

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