practice hospitality

I’ve been slowly making my way through the book of Romans. Did I mention slowly? This morning I read Romans 12, a chapter we all know pretty well. In fact, as I started reading it, I thought to myself…I know this…do I really need to read it again? My next thought was that I should read it again. If nothing else, I’m filling my mind with excellent thoughts.

Then I got to the end of the verse…Practice Hospitality.

Like most moments of revelation while reading the Bible, this one struck me in a profound way.

This is a command. It is for all of us, not just for the people who have the gift of hospitality, which Paul talks about later. We are all called to practice hospitality with each other…to everyone.

The more interesting word in this sentence is “practice”. Meaning it isn’t an automatic response for most of us, that it takes work to be hospitable to each other. We need to practice it.

When I think of practicing something, it is usually about rehearsing a service so that we can execute it without creating a distraction. Or one step before this, working through lighting cues before people are waiting on me so that I know that they will work; checking the graphics for typos before the service starts.

In the world of church production, creating a distraction-free environment takes practice. It doesn’t just happen by itself. This is something all of us technical artists don’t take for granted. If we want the service to be amazing, it takes work. It takes practice.

Maybe Paul simply meant that we needed to open up our houses to people or learn how to cook for a large group. But I think the word hospitality applies to all of us for a reason. It is other-focused. It is an opportunity for us to not just fixate on ourselves…to think about someone else and what they might need in a situation.

I don’t know about you, but so often I’m trying to cover my own stuff. I don’t care about anyone else’s issues, I just don’t want my stuff to fail.

I was talking with someone who is now a friend, but around 10 years ago we didn’t know each other and were working on a project together. At the time, he had some idea that I thought was crazy, but I figured that it didn’t really affect me and that if he wanted to do something crazy, knock yourself out.

After reading this verse, I remembered this moment. I was only worried about getting my work done, and I didn’t care about my now friend’s work, or anyone else’s. You make sure you pull together your crazy idea and I’ll worry about my own stuff.

This is my natural instinct. Do your job and I’ll do mine. I’m definitely not thinking about how I can be hospitable to others.

How can I move toward thinking of others more often? What does it really mean to practice hospitality in my world?

When I practice the piano, it is usually painful and frustrating. Everything sounds bad and I hit the wrong keys a lot. Practicing anything at first can be this way. So I’m guessing that includes practicing hospitality.

Just because it is awkward and frustrating doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep practicing it. Each time we show hospitality to someone it will get easier. Each time we think of others, it will become more of a natural reaction.

What can I do to practice the act of being hospitable to someone this week? What does it look like to think of someone else first?

Whether in your production setting at church or at your job or with your family, practice hospitality.


Interested in joining a community of other technical artists trying to create healthy environments where we can work together and make ideas happen? Check out FILO Coaching!

Todd Elliott

Todd Elliott

Todd is a writer, speaker, technical artist in the local church and founder of FILO.

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