Entertaining or Hospitality?

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Have you ever thought about it, I mean really thought about the difference between entertaining and hospitality?  It’s interesting these two words.  When I think of entertaining my husband’s colleagues I imagine something very different than when I think about hosting our close friends for dinner.  When I’m entertaining I lean towards perfectionism.  I want to impress our guests.  When I’m hosting my best friend I’m not as concerned about the laundry still needing folding on the couch.  You know what I mean?  Let’s take a look at the definitions of these two words as they are found in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Entertaining – Providing amusement or enjoyment, provided especially by performers.

Hospitality – Offering a pleasant or sustaining environment.

Entertaining is about impressing people and providing them entertainment.  Entertaining implies a distance between the hostess and her guests like a stage production and the audience.  The hostess is concerned about the superficial things.  The hostess is, well, self-centered, whether intentionally or not, as she tries to make everything perfect in her home.  This is the proverbial “hostess with the mostess” out to impress her guests, wowing them with her culinary abilities, lovely decorations, and perfect children.  It inevitably leads to stress and aggravation for the hostess because everything isn’t perfect.  Sadly, this is often a portrait of a woman whose husband and children think her a hypocrite as she lavishes her guests with kindness and lovely things while she barks orders and spews hatefulness before the guests arrive.  I know what I’m talking about.  I’ve been in those shoes.

Hospitality, on the other hand, is about others.  It focuses completely on the guests and their needs.  I love that definition!  “Offering a pleasant or sustaining environment.”  I imagine people in community sharing life together.


Let’s put it this way.  It’s Monday afternoon the house has that “lived in” look, too many dirty dishes on the counter, your homeschooled children are still in their pajamas, books and toys are strewn everywhere, and well, you haven’t showered.  The door bell rings.  It’s the new mom you just met at church and she has taken you up on the offer to drop by any time.  You smile graciously and…invite…her…in.  Here is the best part, and probably the hardest (at least for me) you don’t apologize for the lack of perfection.  If you do it might put that sweet momma on the spot and perhaps make her feel uncomfortable.  No, you invite her in to your real and imperfect life.

God cares about hospitality which is why it’s a Biblical mandate.

Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.  (Hebrews 13:1-2)

Did you notice hospitality is tied to love?  As we show hospitality to others we are sharing God’s love with them, because He loved us first, we have the capability to love.  Hospitality should be our constant pleasure and is our privilege as we love on people in need.  Mother Teresa actually compared being unloved to poverty.

We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.  (Mother Teresa)

There are so many hurting people in the world today, but we can help just a little bit, by mercifully participating in hospitality!

Of course the world has tried to twist this beautiful gift into something selfish and unmerciful wanting women to believe the lie that they have to entertain guests according the world’s standards.  Because of that unreachable standard so many women don’t participate in hospitality because they think they won’t do it well.  They believe their house isn’t big enough, the dishes are all old and chipped, the carpets are stained, the children won’t behave, there isn’t enough money for groceries for the family let alone guests.  But that’s just it.  Life is like that for most everyone.  Life is messy.  We as Christians must be intentional in fighting this world view and we most certainly can’t wait until we think we have it all together.  God doesn’t expect perfection.


  • So pull out those old chipped tea cups, cover the table with a quilt and call it “vintage.”
  • Allow your guests to see you lovingly correct your children.  They will be put at ease with their own children.
  • Give the Lord opportunity to multiple your little into plenty as you share with others.
  • Don’t worry about creating some culinary delight and just serve something your family loves to eat.  Truly no one will remember what you served and what you served it on.  They will only remember the love they received at your table.

Share in hospitality and watch the Lord multiple your love, your joy, your peace, and your resources!

(Linked to Small Footprint FridaysBest Posts Of The Week, Homemaking Party at Hope In Every SeasonFoodie Friends Friday, Blooms DesignsThriving Thursday, Making Your Home SingMotivation Monday Manic MondayA Little R & R and Sharendipity Place)

  1. You and this post from last week have absolutely won us over, and we’ll be featuring it this weekend at One Sharendipity Place!!
    sue @thet2women.com

  2. I have never really thought about there being a difference between entertaining and hospitality. I always figured they were one in the same. This is great food for thought and I would much rather be the source of hospitality than be known as the “Entertainer” lol So glad I found your blog:)

  3. I’m so glad we found your blog!! Thanks for linking up with us at One Sharendipity Place this weekend!
    Sue @thet2women.com

  4. Love this! There’s a new link-up party going on at One Sharendipity Place and we would love for you to join us! Here’s the link if you want to come: http://thet2women.com/welcome-to-one-sharendipity-place-link-up-4/

  5. Natasha In Oz - May 26, 2013

    Beautiful post; so glad I found you via Manic Monday. I love the idea that people wont really remember what they have eaten but will remember how loved and welcomed they felt; that is true hospitality!

    Best wishes,
    Natasha in Oz

  6. Love this post… My mom showed hospitality as her saying was if you came to see my house, you might as well leave but if you came to visit me please sit and enjoy some coffee or tea… Our house was always upside down and backwards although clean but my mom always had time to visit with anyone who came through the door from salespersons to neighbors to family… Although I wish I was like her, I am concerned at what my house looks like when visitors come. thanks for sharing this on Foodie Friends Friday and this is my host favorite for the week. Please remember to come back and vote.

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