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Hospitality for Introverts

Hospitality for Introverts

How can you practice hospitality when you'd rather be alone?

I don't have the gift of hospitality. I first truly understood that when I was at my friend Mary's house along with a woman who was in campus ministry. This woman told us of an Indian student who needed housing. As she was telling us this girl's situation, I was saying to God, I don't want to have her live with us, but if that's what you want, I'm listening. But every fiber of my body was resisting the idea. Before she could even finish telling us about her, Mary said, "We'll take her. We'd love to have her!" In that moment I realized what the gift of hospitality is—unreserved delight in having people in your home.

Not only do I not have the gift of hospitality, but I'm an introvert. The one thing I could not live without is alone time. Whenever such time is crowded out of my life, I feel like I'm being crushed in a vice, with so much pressure that I'm going to crack.

Extroverts may struggle with things like keeping their house clean and fixing eatable meals as they consider hospitality, but they will often find ways to overcome that because they want to be with people. In fact, they are so motivated that they are probably practicing hospitality naturally as they go about their days.

We introverts, on the other hand, usually look for ways to avoid people. We're the kind who look the other way when we see someone we know in the grocery store because it means we'll have to talk to them. Most of us are content with having just a few friends around us, but we certainly don't enjoy going out of our way to meet new people and invite them into our living space.

But I'm a pastor's wife and also can't ignore verses, such as Romans 12:13, which clearly tell us to practice hospitality. So I sincerely want to be hospitable.

I've given this quite a bit of thought and come to terms with the command and my personality. So for those of you who belong to the introvert camp, I may have some wisdom to share.

Concentrate on reaching out to one or two people, rather than feeling like you continually have to make new contacts. We have a three-minute rule at our church. The first three minutes after the service, members are encouraged to meet someone new. Although, I understand the importance of such a rule, it strikes terror in my heart. As the service comes to an end, I feel anxious and tense as I feel the pressure to meet someone new. So I've decided to tweak the three-minute rule and develop a relationship with someone new rather than simply saying hi each week to a different person. After each service, there are several new people I try to consistently talk to.

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JoHannah Reardon

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