You know, true hospitality – the kind that emanates from someone’s selfless heart – is hard to find. Yet, can I just humbly say, Jen Schmidt is the absolutely embodiment of Christ-like hospitality. As she ministers to friends, family, and even strangers in what seems to be the simple act of opening her door to them, those visiting see a glimpse of Jesus who welcomed strangers and ate with sinners. Jen wrote one heart-needed, beautiful book about being God’s hands through hospitality called Just Open the Door, and I highly recommend it. It’s an absolute pleasure to welcome Jen to the farm’s front porch today…
As I think back on where my legacy of hospitality started, my memories surround our childhood doorway.
I can’t really describe it in great detail. That’s how little its appearance even mattered.
But I do remember its purpose.
It housed both a storm door and a screen door. The heavy door kept out the brutal Wisconsin winter, while the other door contained a large screen for those rare days when we captured the magic of spring and summer.
My favorite days growing up? The ones when that screen door announced action.
I’d hear it again. Slam. Slam.
Long before Field of Dreams popularized the phrase, my parents had already personified the message of “If you build it, they will come.”
With a genuine love for others, and inspired by an outsized vision for impacting their community, they defied the indoor space limitations of our fifteen-hundred-square-foot house and poured a concrete pad in the backyard.
Thus began an informal volleyball league, meeting every Sunday night. Friends, kids, and strangers alike gathered from all over.
Simple snacks lined the table, complete with stacks of coolers filled with cold drinks. Smoky aromas from a charcoal grill wafted through the air. Laughter mingled with the casual delights of shared conversation, punctuated by roars of cheering and applause for points scored and exceptional plays. High-fives all around.
Slam. Slam. Slam.
There was never anything fancy about it.
“Come Sunday night, bring your favorite beverage, a little something to eat, and let’s have fun playing together.”
But I’m telling you, a whole lot more than volleyball took place on those incredibly memorable evenings of my childhood.What started out as a loosely connected community came together around a game, only to turn into friendships that lingered into lasting relationships.
Life after life. Story after story.
I was there. I saw it. I heard it.
My parents—an ordinary couple—made a deliberate decision, intent on getting to know the people around them from more than a polite distance.
I didn’t even realize they were modeling anything special.
They were simply living the natural outflow of their faith, putting a smiling face on their heart of welcome.
But the aroma it created drew others in. And it wasn’t just the aroma of Wisconsin brats roasting on an open fire. It was so much more.
It changed the dynamic. It changed people’s lives.
Because hospitality has the power to change a generation.
I know I’m issuing a bold declaration with these words, but I don’t offer it lightly.
This is not an “over promise and under deliver” kind of marketing ploy.
This is a living, breathing, God-ordained path to walk out the abundance of the Gospel through incorporating ordinary rhythms of welcome into our everyday lives.
I genuinely believe we can change a generation with something as simple as an invitation.
And I say, why not yours? I’ve sure seen it change mine.
Hospitality. What is it, really? When we overstress, over plan, and overthink inviting others into our lives and homes, hospitality becomes overwhelming to our souls.
We become slaves to the expectations of others and freeze at the thought of extending an invitation. Craving both perfection and polished perception, we fall victim to a cruel taskmaster.
So how do we find the balance here?
How do we open our door to the unknown without opening ourselves to dread and discouragement?
Somewhere along the way, we’ve allowed the notion of social entertaining to hijack the true heart of biblical hospitality. It comes down to knowing the difference between the two.
In her flagship book Entertaining, Martha Stewart says, “Entertaining, like cooking, is a little selfish, because it really involves pleasing yourself with a guest list that will coalesce into your ideal of harmony, with a menu orchestrated to your home and taste, with decorations subject to your own eye. Given these considerations, it has to be pleasureful.”
This one paragraph hints at the telltale difference.
The entertaining host seeks to elevate herself. As Martha mentions, it’s a bit selfish. When the guest arrives, the entertainer announces, “Here I am. Come into my beautiful abode and have the honor of partaking of the wonderful things I’ve spent hours getting done for you. How fortunate for you to be a part of this.”
While I embellish on what a hostess might actually say, we’ve all encountered this attitude once or twice, haven’t we? Maybe we’ve even allowed a similar tone to slip ever so subtly into our own hosting.
Hospitality is different.Biblical hospitality offers our best to Him first, understanding that our best to others will then fall into place.
It transforms our selfish motives and elevates our guest.
When the hospitable hostess swings wide the door, all her attention focuses outward:
“You’re here! I’ve been waiting for you. No one is more important today than you, and I’m thrilled you’ve come.”
The posture we assume in hospitality is one that bends low, generously offering our heart to another despite whatever interruption to our own plans or comfort.
No need to worry about what to say or how to act. Just come as you are.
Status-seeking versus servanthood.
“Here I am” versus “here you are.”
Self-serving — to simply serving others.
Over and over I’m reminded that we have no grand blueprint for hospitality aside from loving others.
The main reason we open our door is because we’re driven by the main principles of hospitality: loving Him, loving His will, and following His will into loving others.
When we use our lives exactly as they are, desiring only to create a sacred space for our guests, mixing it with the countercultural truth of loving Jesus and loving others —
we turn entertaining upside down, and it becomes radical hospitality.
Just Open the Door.
For the last decade, Jen Schmidt has been encouraging, challenging, and cheering on women to embrace both the beauty and bedlam of their everyday lives on her popular lifestyle blog, Balancing Beautyand Bedlam. With a variety of topics from easy dinner ideas and personal finance to leaving a legacy, Jen equips others to live life to its fullest, reminding them it’s the little things that really are the big things in life. A popular speaker, worship leader and founder/host of the annual Becoming Conference, Jen shares with humor and authenticity as she invites others to join her on this bumpy, beautiful life journey.
She talks about both beauty, bedlam and how to be hospitable at the same time in her new book, Just Open the Door. Jen has set out to reframe how we think about hospitality and to equip us to walk a road of welcome in our daily lives. She knows that every time we choose open-door living—whether in our homes or by taking hospitality on the road just like Jesus—those we invite in get to experience the lived-out Gospel, our kids grow up in a life-lab of generosity, and we trade insecurity for connection.
Just Open the Door is a personal yes-you-can guide to offering the life-changing gift of invitation. Whether you’re a seasoned host looking for renewed inspiration or a nervous newbie not sure where to begin, these personal stories, practical ideas, and poignant insights will give you the confidence you need to see your home as the most likely location for changing the world around you, one open door at a time.
[ Our humble thanks to B&H for their partnership in today’s devotion ]