Invite Others In Without Burning Out: The Introvert's Guide to Biblical Hospitality

December 22, 2022

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Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the thought of being hospitable as an introvert? Are you struggling to balance your need for alone time with biblical hospitality? This episode will provide helpful tips and strategies for practicing biblical hospitality without burning out. How can we create boundaries, set realistic expectations, and prioritize self-care while showing kindness to others?


Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.

Elizabeth Urbanowicz:
Hello friends, and welcome to another episode of the Foundation Worldview Podcast where we seek to answer your questions so that you can equip the children God has placed in your care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter and understand the truth of the biblical worldview. I'm your host, Elizabeth Urbanowicz, and I'm thrilled that you've joined me for another episode of the podcast today. Now today's question says, "My wife and I recently moved to a new town and know very few people. She is also very introverted. How can we practice biblical hospitality without burning her out?" Now this is a great question, and I know that it stems from a webinar that I did with Rosa Butterfield where we looked at raising kids in a home that practices biblical hospitality. And this is a great question because I love how this husband is being so intentional at thinking through both how do we obey this biblical command, while how does he obey the biblical command to love his wife as Christ loved the church, not wanting to burn her out?

Now in Rosa Butterfield's book on hospitality, The Gospel Comes With a House Key, she uses the analogy of marathon running, and she talks about when you're running a marathon with someone, it's the slowest runner who sets the pace. So in this case, with a husband and a wife, where the wife happens to be the one who's more introverted and who gets burned out more quickly, she's going to be the one that needs to set the pace for this. If it's just the opposite in a relationship, if it's the wife... I'm sorry, if it's the husband who's more introverted and has more trouble practicing hospitality continually, it's the husband then that's going to need to practice or to set the pace there.

What we need to make sure that we do, whether we're single or married, is that we actually get in the race. Because introversion is a real thing. It's a real thing if you get recharged by your time alone. Even before I knew the terms introversion and extroversion, when I was growing up, I would know every once in a while my family would go out, they'd go out to dinner or go out to see a movie or go out with friends, and I would ask if I could stay home. And all I knew, I didn't know anything about introversion or extroversion, but I just knew that those two to three hours that I had by myself at home were amazing, and by the time my family came back from wherever they went, I would feel alive and I'd feel recharged and rejuvenated. So those things are real, how we get our energy.

But introversion should not be an excuse to not practice hospitality. So we need to make sure that we are in the race, even if we're running at a very slow pace, that we are in the race practicing biblical hospitality because hospitality is a biblical command. When you actually read through the qualifications for elders, in the book of Titus, practicing hospitality is a requirement for a man to be eligible to be a biblical elder, that he has to practice hospitality. So this tells us that hospitality is something that we should all strive for, we should all work towards, because we are commanded biblically to show hospitality. Now, as with any other spiritual discipline, when we're thinking about scripture reading or prayer or fasting, or we're thinking about practicing gratitude or self-sacrifice, with any spiritual discipline, we're exercising a spiritual muscle.

So hospitality is no different. If we're not used to practicing hospitality, it's going to be very difficult at the beginning. And we don't need to go from zero to 60 in two weeks. We can go from zero to two in two weeks, or we can go to zero to five. Just start practicing hospitality once a month. Then once you've built up some of that muscle memory, start practicing it twice a month. When you've built it up a little bit more, start practicing it once a week. I have a really good friend who grew up in a home where biblical hospitality was practiced regularly by her parents. So when she grew up and got married, this was just something she wanted to start to practice in her own home, where her husband, even though he grew up in a Christian home, he did not grow up in a home that practiced biblical hospitality regularly, and he's more of an introvert.

So when she would say, "Hey, let's have this couple over, or let's have this person over, or let's have this family over," at first he was pretty hesitant and was like, "Oh, I'm just getting home from work, I'm really tired, I don't feel like seeing people." And she would just gently push him to say, "Well, who is one person or one family or one couple we can have over this month?" And as they started to have people over and practice that muscle of hospitality, before long it was her husband who was saying, "Oh, that new couple at church, let's have them over, or this family or this person, let's have them over," because as he was building up that muscle, he was realizing what a blessing it is to practice biblical hospitality. He was realizing that it's not necessarily draining on us once you get used to practicing biblical hospitality.

Now, in this situation where the wife is very introverted, what I would recommend is start out by just investing in two or three families or single individuals in your church. Don't start to have everybody from church over or don't have a different person over every single week or every single month. Just focus in on who are two or three families or individuals that we can intentionally invest time in and start inviting them over consistently to build relationships. Because once we build relationships with people and we know them and we know their families, we know their likes, we know their dislikes, we know who they are, we know what they do, we know more about their personality, soon hospitality doesn't feel like work at all. Soon hospitality just feels like having a family over.

I experienced this recently when I just moved to a new community. A year ago, I moved to a completely different state, I started investing in a new church in this state, and it took a while to build relationships, but I started having the same people over consistently. And as I did that, we got to know one another. And now there's certain families or individuals in my church, they can just walk in and they know where the bathroom is, they know where the drinking glasses are, they know where the fridge is. So it's just like having family over. So would really encourage you, if hospitality is difficult for you or difficult for your spouse, just identify who are two or three families or individuals that we can begin investing in. And this is a blessing to your children as well, because they're actually being immersed in the gospel within your home.

Also would encourage you, a lot of times it's more natural to think of what family or what couple can we have over, start identifying who are some of the singles in your church that you can have over as well? I can tell you as a single individual that I need the body of Christ. I don't have a family that lives with me. I don't have a spouse that lives with me. So I need those relationships in a really real and tangible way. And at the same time, for those of you who are families or couples who are having singles over, that single person can be a blessing to your family as well, and that it's a person who might not have children of their own to invest in so they can really begin consistently investing in your children.

As a single person I don't have any more time than a married person or a mom or a dad does. However, I do have more flexibility in my time. When someone asks me if I can do something or if I can help out. I don't have to say, "Well, let me go check it with my spouse." All I do is pull up my Google Calendar and say, "Yep, I can be there. Putting it down." So single individuals need married couples and families, and married couples and families need single individuals. It's how the body of Christ works. Now, if you're intimidated by having people over your home, meet up at an outside location first, invite people into your backyard. It's a little less intimidating than into a house.

Invite them to go out to a restaurant together, meet up in a park, and then as you get to know one another and become more comfortable, then invite them into your home. If that's something that's really difficult, meet at an outside location and then have them into your home. But also just encourage you, just have them into your home. Even if you're uncomfortable, just get over that, because usually what that's rooted in is that's rooted in idolatry. A fear of having people into our home, it's rooted in this idolatry of ourselves, that people will have a correct view of how much we're not perfect when we have them into our homes.

One of the biggest blessings that my pastor and his wife, back when I lived in Chicago, that they gave me was just inviting me into their home life. When they had me over, they didn't make sure that their house was perfectly clean. They didn't make sure all the toys were swept up. They didn't make sure the dishes were done. Sometimes I would come over and I'd ask if I could help out, and my pastor's wife would say, "Yeah, can you do those dishes?" Now some of you might be gasping at the other end, but that was such a huge blessing to me because it meant that I was a valuable and vital part of their home life for that day, that they loved me enough to consider me family, to let me wash their dishes.

So this is something, when you have people over to your house, don't view it as hosting, view it as hospitality. So whenever I have people over to my house and they ask, "Can I bring something," I say yes, and I assign them something to bring, not because I'm incapable of making it, but because it's allowing them to be a vital part of the evening. Just last night, I texted a couple from church and said, "Hey, I'd love to have you over. Do one of these dates work." And we picked out a date and the wife texted me back and said, "Can I bring anything?" I said, "Yes, why don't you bring dessert?" Because I'm including them in my home, in my family. So that's just an easy thing that we can go do. And then I would just encourage you, for this husband that wrote in, to continue being sensitive to your wife's needs, that's a really good thing, and to let her set the pace.

And then also gently encourage her and yourself to slowly extend yourselves outside of your comfort zone, because this is how we really build true familial relationships with those within the body of Christ is by stepping outside of their comfort zone. One thing I've started to do as a single person, one of the elders at my church who is single, he encouraged me to do this, and at first I was like, "You have got to be kidding me. I'm not doing this." But then I realized how important it is. He said, "Elizabeth, you need to start inviting yourself over to people's houses." And I was like, "Invite myself over? You've got to be kidding me." But then we talked through it and he said, "It's harder for a family to pack up their kids and come over to your house for dinner where they're going to be making dinner every night anyway," he's like, "So just ask them, 'When can you come over?'"

So I started to do that. I started to be honest with families in my church and say, "Hey, I need you. There's some nights where I eat dinner alone." Not that that's always a bad thing, but I need a family. I need families for my church to invite me in to their lives. So I would just encourage you in your context, just encourage your wife, encourage yourself to just slowly start to step outside of your comfort zone, not for the purpose of extending your comfort zone for your comfort zone's sake, but for the purpose of faithfully living out the gospel within the community in which God has placed you. This is going to be a great benefit to you and to your children as they're immersed in a family that truly lives out the gospel. Well, that's a wrap for this episode. As always, as we leave this time together, my prayer for you is that God would richly bless you as you continue to faithfully disciple the children that He's placed in your care. I'll see you next time.

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