Thursday, December 18, 2014
Stress, Impress or Bless - by Heidi McLaughlin
I felt offended. My spiritual gift evaluation showed that my strengths emerged in the area of hospitality. “How shallow and frivolous is that?” I thought. “I want my top spiritual gifts to be something more meaningful and powerful; like wisdom, evangelism, prayer warrior or teaching.” And yet I read Mother Teresa’s simple words, “Spread love wherever you go: First of all in your own house…let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile”. Those practical words changed my attitude and perception about this seemingly useless gift.
I also had to change my motive and learn the difference between entertaining and hospitality. When our motives for entertaining guests are focused on impressing, it becomes stressful and exhausting to share our food, our guest rooms, our resources and our valuable time. To unleash the true beauty of a hospitable heart, I needed to check my motive for inviting people in my home. I had to be clear about the difference between impressing and blessing. Impressing is entertaining, and blessing is hospitality.
Ø Looks for payment; the words, “My, isn’t she a remarkable hostess…”
Ø Says, “I want to impress you with my home, my clever decorating, and my gourmet cooking.”
Ø Flaunts what we have and wants to impress people. It is about working hard to make everything look perfect and wearing ourselves out to astonish people with our creativity and skills.
Ø It is the cover of a slick woman’s magazine with the alluring pictures of good food and stunningly decorated rooms.
Ø Is a beautiful and creative gift from God; one that we can enjoy and explore for the rest of our lives; and it never goes out of style.
Ø Gives pleasure in giving, doing, loving and serving.
Ø Seeks to minister and says, “This home is a gift and a haven from my Master; I use it as He desires.”
Ø Is about making the time to share our home, serve people with love, and intentionally bless those that walk through our doors.
Ø Is about the intimate connection between food and fellowship. “Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to say for the night” (1Peter 4:9 NIV).
What is it about eating food together that creates such a sociable atmosphere? We all long to be part of some community; and we find some of this in our favorite coffee shop where we stop to chat with a friend. We also love to gather on a hot evening at the ice cream shop or sit on the patio of an outdoor restaurant swapping stories. I feel that eating together is a spiritual experience; a building of community through sharing our hearts.
In our present complicated, “hurry up life”; taking the time to invite people into our homes to share our food is probably one of the greatest acts of kindness we can extend to each other. It’s an opportunity to exhibit and share the most intimate parts or our lives. When we have people into our homes it says, “Come and see where we live, and share what we have.”
The Christmas season is the perfect time to use our gift of hospitality to share our homes with pure and joyful motives. I learned this principle from Jesus. In His final hours on earth, with the shadow of the cross hanging over Him, Jesus spent His last evening sharing dinner with His disciples. He chose to share life-changing information with them that night around a table. It was a place of intimacy created by mouths enjoying the same food, bodies reclining around the table and eyes meeting across the plates. Here they enjoyed intimate community.
Our homes and our tables should be a place to share what is meaningful with each other. After all, this was the place Jesus commanded us to remember Him by the breaking of bread and drinking of wine. Our homes are the greatest place to share food, blessings, and the “good news of Christ”; hand-in-hand.
Heidi McLaughlin lives in the beautiful vineyards of the Okanagan Valley in Kelowna, British Columbia. She is married to Pastor Jack and they have a wonderful, eclectic blended family of 5 children and 9 grandchildren. When Heidi is not working, she loves to curl up with a great book, or golf and laugh with her husband and special friends. You can reach her at: www.heartconnection.ca
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