As an introvert and the wife to a husband in college ministry, I often get asked how I function with having college students over all the time. A common misconception about introverts is that we don't like people. This couldn't be farther from the truth. While, yes, I could go to a secluded cabin in the woods for a weekend completely alone and love it, I eventually would want to come back and be with people. Being an introvert means I recharge by being alone. But once I've re-charged and feel refreshed I can't wait to socialize and have meaningful conversations with friends.
As a family in college ministry, we have a lot of football and baseball players over. While I enjoy serving these men large quantities of food, I also long for deeper conversations with my peers. Which is why we recently started a supper club. We have five couples and each couple brings a different dish that makes up the whole meal. We meet once a month and at a different house each month. This has easily become one of my new favorite things. If you're an introvert and struggle with hospitality here are a few tips I've learned over the years that make me look forward to it. While I by no means have hospitality figured out, these are a few things we've learned over the years through trial and error.
1. Do Hospitality that You Love
We are all called to be hospitable. To love and serve the poor and widows and to invite our neighbors and strangers into our home. This is often a hard and sometimes draining task, especially for an introvert. In addition to this kind of hospitality, it's important to do the hospitality that you enjoy. if that means just having one or two close couples over for dinner occasionally or hosting a small group of close girlfriends, do it!
Because introverts love deep meaningful conversations, creating an environment that promotes these conversations is vital for healthy relationships. In some ways, we've lost the art of relationships because social media and our culture is all about showing off the perfect snapshots of our life.
2. Set Boundaries
Hospitality can be uncomfortable, tiring, and completely outside your comfort zone. And that's ok. As Christians, we are called to do hard things. But in order to have a rhythm to our days that don't lead to total burnout, we try to set general boundaries that include hospitality and also leaves our family healthy and re-charged. These boundaries have been made from trial and a LOT off error. For us, we don't have people over more than three nights in a row. my husband always asks me at least a few days in advance if he wants to have some guys over for dinner. The meal is always simple and we sometimes cater the meal if I'm feeling particularly drained that week. We also try to have a general end time around 10. I have friends who stay up till 12 or 1 in the morning talking with people and that literally gives me anxiety just thinking about it.
Sit down with your family and figure out some general guidelines that work for your schedule and life.
3. Hospitality Looks Different for Everybody
We all have those people in our lives who are naturally hospitable. They seem to have people over constantly and never seem to get burned out by it. in fact, it looks like they absolutely love having people in their home all the time. It's easy to compare ourselves to these people and think that we will always fall short and never have the capacity to do what they're doing. When you find yourself comparing yourself to these people stop and think about ways that you can learn from them but not be exactly like them.
Because we are in full-time ministry, our hospitality is mainly going to be to college students. While other friends of ours minister to the underprivileged and poor because that is where they live and work. Ask yourself who are the people that you interact with on a daily basis or live in close proximity to. Come up with creative ways to show them hospitality.
4. It Doesn't Have to be Fancy
Since I love interior design, decorating for guests is one of my favorite things to do. But the reality is that football players don't really care what type of flowers are in the room or how I created the perfect centerpiece. We usually have to move everything off the table so there's enough room for everyone anyway. The point is that it doesn't really matter what my house looks like when people come over. While I love decorating and making people feel at home, that isn't a necessary prerequisite to hospitality. We need to be present and to listen well.
Because of these guidelines that we've set as a family, I've truly come to look forward to having people over instead of dreading it. What are some ways that you like to show hospitality to other people?