Motherhood and Ministry Part 1: Hospitality


“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Romans 12:13

The life of any mom, overseas or not, is one of tension between priorities. As a missionary mom, undoubtedly we all feel the tension between our calling to be wives and mothers and our calling to be serving in ministry. Apart from my relationship with God and my relationship with my husband, there is no single priority greater than my calling to be a mother. At the same time though, the entire reason that we gave up everything we had known in life to move to Russia was ministry!

One thing that I have been praying about and striving to grow in is the area of hospitality. This seems to me one of the most natural ways to combine motherhood and ministry. I have a friend who is a mom serving in Siberia that I admire greatly who is constantly having people into her home and sharing the gospel with them as she feeds them good food and enjoys their friendship. I truly believe that she has the gift of hospitality! I have no doubt that her little daughter loves the guests and attention, and my friend gets to do both motherhood and ministry at the same time.

If you are like me (and I know that many of you are probably far more skilled at hospitality than I am), you might have a strong desire to be hospitible but struggle with knowing how to make it happen in the midst of an already packed schedule. Here are some of the ideas that I am trying to implement as I try to open up more opportunities in my daily life for ministry through hospitality:

1) Have meals stored in the freezer for times when a good hospitality opportunity comes up unexpectedly. If you are making a lasagne, soup, meat sauce, or anything else that freezes well, make twice or more of what you would normally make for a meal and freeze the extra. I know I have often missed opportunities to bless people with hospitality because I didn’t have anything to offer and couldn’t get to the store.

2) Have some nice packaged cookies set aside or home made desserts stored in the freezer in case you want to have someone over for tea/coffee and weren’t planning on it. Or just don’t worry about having the right food and have people over anyway when the opportunity comes up! People are probably more interested in spending time than you having the right foods to offer.

3) Try to reduce clutter and have a place to stash things for  quick house cleaning. I think one of the biggest things that keeps me from spontaneously offering hospitality is the fact that I have two toddlers and that our house is pretty much always an obstacle course of toys, cracker crumbs, etc. I am trying to minimize clutter by having a rotation of toys that we play with (rather than having all 1,000 toys out at the same time), giving away things that we don’t need or use,  and by making quick-cleaning easier by having places to easily stash things. At the same time I am also praying about why I feel such a strong need to have my house in good order as a prerequisite for hospitality. At some point, if my standards about the order of my house are so high that it prevents me from inviting people into our home, I need to question my priorities.

4) Set aside days on your calendar specifically for having guests, even if you don’t know who you will have over until later. I have missed so many opportunities simply from poor planning. I know there have been many nights when we would have loved to have had guests but when I didn’t do the necessary planning to make it happen.

If you have any other ideas about how to make hospitality easier, please post a comment! I am not a pro in this area, but I want to become better at it!


6 Responses to “Motherhood and Ministry Part 1: Hospitality”

  1. 1 Naomi February 12, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    I just wanna say you are great at hospitality! I love coming round to your apartment 🙂

  2. 2 meli February 12, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    -I like the freezer meal idea, but an issue in our country is that freezer space is TINY! So a friend of mine often cooks crock-pot meals. There is always enough for one or two more people if she chooses to have a last minute guest and if not, then there are plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day.

    -Living abroad also has some nice perks…one being labor is often cheap. We have a “baomu” or a helper. For years I was against getting one, but once I was pregnant with #2 I wanted all the help I could get. Since parents and relatives are far away I just about never got a break. the baomu helps with whatever you need–babysitter, clean house, buy groceries, cook or prep dinner–it’s been a lifesaver for me.

    -When it comes to teammates I tell them often to invite themselves over. (of course by calling first). Maybe this is me being lazy so that I don’t have to initiate, but I know that if I don’t make that an option than it’s likely they’d never come over. I try to make my home as comfy and available as possible. And often they come and read, watch movies, eat whatever we have and just chill. For many of them just being in a “home” instead of a temporary living space is a nice break from work and culture shock.

  3. 3 montyandmarie February 13, 2009 at 5:05 am

    I love this post, thanks Ashley! I think these are great tips even for those of us in the U.S.

  4. 4 alatvala February 13, 2009 at 5:53 am

    I love your ideas, Meli! Thank you!

  5. 5 Alexis February 13, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    This is a great topic. In Croatia I struggled with the same thing – and I didn’t even have kids! Like you suggested, we always stockpiled packaged cookies and all kinds of tea – and it came in handy so often. It’s not as common in the US, but over there, and I think in quite a few cultures, it was kind of expected that you would offer guests tea and snacks – regardless of time or circumstance! We had students dropping by all the time and it was nice to be able to accommodate them.
    On the other hand, I really struggled at times with wanting our apartment to be tidy and ‘presentable’ before inviting people over. (Our team was busy and there were tons of people in and out all the time so it was easy for things to get dirty, messy, and cluttered.) I’m sure I’ll have to deal with that issue of my pride getting in the way of hospitality at times (and finding some balance there, too) more when kids are in the picture.

  6. 6 abbieknaub February 15, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Great ideas! I use many of these to offer hospitality here in the US as a pastor’s wife. 🙂 After spending time in Spain and Mexico and seeing how much time they made for their friends and family to eat/drink together, it’s been even more important to learn hospitality in this more private culture.

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