Want to Grow in Hospitality? Start with Your Inner Circle

I suppose I should start this blog with a confession.

I stink at hospitality. 

Despite my best efforts, I will never win any awards for my hostess-ing, cooking, or decorating skills. So, if you’re looking for tips in any of those areas, you’ve come to the wrong place. Instead, I am writing this post out of a need to grow in the area of hospitality and a desire to cultivate a home culture of grace, fellowship, and honor. 

An Atmosphere of Grace 

I’ve always thought of hospitality as opening my home to outsiders. And, of course, hospitality is that at minimum. But as I’ve pondered this topic over the past few weeks, it has occurred to me that I need to start my journey of hospitality with the people who make up my innermost circle. Hospitality to outsiders will be both hollow and shallow if I don’t practice it with my own family first.

I would never want a guest to feel unwelcome in my home or to walk away feeling like I had been a less-than-gracious host. I want their stay in my house to be comfortable, warm, gracious, fun, and edifying. I want them to walk away feeling refreshed and uplifted. 

But do I desire the same for my own family? 

Of course, the people I’m around every single day see me at my worst moments. We all lose our tempers with the ones we love the most and save the worst of ourselves just for them. Likewise, we see all of their warts as well. So, I’m not advocating for a home in which we walk on eggshells and put on a happy face all the time, pretending to be guests in a stranger’s home.

However, my home ought to exude an atmosphere of grace—whether company is present or not. This atmosphere can be cultivated in a couple different ways. 

Gospel Grace

I want to incarnate the gospel to my family as a living object lesson. This means that I will extend grace and mercy. I will be quick to forgive and ask forgiveness. I will show compassion and demonstrate patience, forbearance, and selflessness. And when I fail—which I do ALL. THE. TIME.—I will find refuge in the scars of my Savior and the victory He won over my sin. 

The gospel must inform the way I break up fights, mete out discipline, give comfort after a bad dream, ask for forgiveness, cook dinner, clean the bathroom, fold the clothes, or read the same story for the four thousandth time. 


The gospel is important. Paramount. Imperative. Non-negotiable. It’s the number-one ingredient for a hospitable atmosphere. But I also want to foster a culture of fun in my home. It’s easy for me to be engrossed in tasks and to think constantly about what I need to do next. I don’t want to sit down and take a break if I have unfinished chores. I tend to find satisfaction in keeping busy. 

Industriousness and diligence are good things (just ask the Proverbs 31 woman!). However, when my kids look back at their childhood, the frequency of the kitchen floor being swept will probably not make the memory bank. But times when I stopped the chores to have some fun just might stick with them. Do I laugh with my family? Do I foster an atmosphere of gospel grace and lighthearted fun? 

Words of Welcome

Though I would (hopefully) never speak harshly or curtly to a guest in my home, sadly all too often that’s exactly how I speak to the members of my household. Practicing hospitality to my inner circle means offering words that give life, courage, and grace. 


My favorite time of day is the quiet of the morning before the rest of my family is up (or rather, after my husband has left for work in what most of us would consider the middle of the night). That quiet sixty to seventy-five minutes gives time for exercise, shower, and time in God’s Word. However, it’s often interrupted by a little girl who also likes to get up early. If I’m not careful my first words to my daughter can be selfish scolds and orders to go back to bed. Likewise, my other child often does not want to get up on mornings he has to go to school. On those days, my first words to him can be demanding and harsh. Instead, in both cases, I must rely on God’s grace so that the first thing my children hear are words of life and not death.

Noon (Or, Daytime)

Where two or three are gathered together, conflict tends to be in their midst. Anytime two sinners get together, squabbles are inevitable. And if those sinners happen to live together, skirmishes can break out over almost anything. Sometimes I have to referee those brouhahas, and sometimes I find myself a participant. In both cases, my words can tend toward quick-temperedness. Taking time to train my children and help them sort out their conflicts in light of the gospel takes work. Yelling “Stop it!” is much quicker. However, to show my favorite people Christlike hospitality requires speaking words of grace and reconciliation even in the midst of conflict. 


The last thoughts before we drift off to sleep say a lot about us. Sometimes I fall asleep worrying about a problem and wake up with the same predicament still on my mind. In these times I know that I’m indulging in sinful anxiety. The question as it pertains to hospitality for my family is this: What is the final thought that I leave my children with for the night? Of course, I’m not responsible for where their minds go after I leave the room. But I can do my best to leave them with thoughts and words of grace and love. Some families have a nightly “blessing” they speak over their children. In the Matson house, it’s a little simpler. But we always try to leave one another with words of love and the assurance of God’s love. 

Table of Fellowship 

Surely we can’t think of hospitality without considering the table. Rare is the occasion when a guest would come over without partaking in food or drink. Most likely we’ll gather at the table, whether for coffee and brownies or a meal. Even in our small house, the table is a gathering place. The question to consider is: What kind of gathering place is it? 

A Place for Talk 

With a four-year-old and a two-year-old at the table, our dinnertime conversations are usually punctuated with such scintillating chatter as, “Take a bite” and “Get back on your chair” and “Say excuse me.” Not exactly the idyllic, soul-bearing chats we might long for. Of course, our kids won’t be so young for long, and hopefully the rhythm we’re establishing now of sitting together and talking about our day will last through the next generation of squirmy, messy, distracted eaters. 

A Place for Enjoyment

Tables, of course, are not only good for food but for a plethora of other activities as well. From board games to jigsaw puzzles to craft activities, pumpkin carving, and egg dyeing. We need fun activities to take us away from our screens and the background noise of the world that seems to creep in everywhere. Gathering around the table just to have fun is simple, and yet it takes discipline. It’s much easier to watch a movie or a TV show than to play a board game or to work on a puzzle. While movie nights certainly have their place (probably too often in my house), it’s the simple, unplugged enjoyment around the table that helps bind our family together. 

Getting Started

These thoughts are simple—nothing more than a humble starting place. But maybe that’s the point. As intimidating as hospitality can seem, maybe it’s really as simple as offering an atmosphere of grace with words of welcome around a table of fellowship—to the inner circle first and continuing out from there.

Are you, like Cindy, ready to dig deeper into the important biblical discipline of hospitality? Cultivate a welcome heart and home with You’re Welcome Here: Embracing the Heart of Hospitality, a brand-new six-week Bible study from Revive Our Hearts. It’s our gift to you when you give a gift of any amount to the ministry. 

About the Author

Cindy Matson

Cindy Matson

Cindy Matson lives in a small Minnesota town with her husband, son and daughter, and ridiculous black dog. She enjoys reading books, drinking coffee, and coaching basketball. You can read more of her musings about God's Word at biblestudynerd.com.

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