Commandment #1: Hospitality is a Gift

Hospitality is not only a gift I have but a gift I give. Be passionate about it!

How can you be passionate about something you feel you are totally inept at, you ask yourself? For some women like myself, hospitality is as natural as walking. For others, it takes work, practice and effort. In my lifetime of entertaining, it has become a channel for some amazing experiences.

I keep 3×5 index cards, bound by a rubber band; of all the guests we have had in our home. I now have fifteen years worth. I record the month/year and what I served. I occasionally thumb through these cards and reminisce. Not necessarily about the meal served, but about what happened around our table that night. Some couples are no longer married. It makes my husband and me wonder, what more could we have done? How could we have helped these people? Real, heart-felt, conversations and sometimes tears took place around the Coughlin dining table. Many times healing as well.

Essential to hospitality is opening our hearts and our homes. We each have a home – be it a small home, mid-sized home, or a mansion! And no matter what the size of our table or what food is served, bonding around that table and enjoying a meal makes people feel loved.

I never thought much about entertaining being different than hospitality, because I refer to both of these often on my blog. But searching deeper, there is a difference. Entertaining can be a burden when I carry around the feeling that I must impress others. Oops! That is hard to write because I’ve experienced it myself. The difference in hospitality is it does not try to impress. I find myself loving and serving and not even thinking about myself, and stories like these are posted throughout my blog.

Entertaining too often says, “I want to impress you with my creative new recipes and the latest decorating fad and my perfectly decked-out house.” It can show that I want to be admired! Hospitality, in turn, says, “This home is truly a gift and it may not be perfect, but come on in for great food and soul connection.” It also says, “What is said around the table stays around the table.”

One more thing about hospitality: It gives without expecting something in return. My husband and I have discussed this. We have served meals around our table for 18 years now, which have not always been reciprocated. Now, do we give to receive? No way! But that is one reason this blog came to be. I can think of so many reluctant entertainers out there that “voice” their desire to be more hospitable, but they’re afraid to. So, how can I help the reluctant entertainer gain the confidence to take his or her God-given gift (even if it has to be nurtured), and use it?

I hope I can help by explaining further the core meaning of hospitality. My TEN COMMANDMENTS spell out the word “hospitable.” How appropriate that the dictionary would define it between the words “hospice” (meaning shelter) and “hospital” (place of healing).

Its no wonder so many people are afraid to “entertain.” Wouldn’t you like to offer a place for others to heal instead? I hope I’ve ignited a renewed passion inside of you!

I’d like to hear your stories of what being hospitable means to you?

(what a reluctant entertainer should not look like! I must have been worried about something!)

12 comments on “Commandment #1: Hospitality is a Gift”

  1. Sandy, I’m SO glad to have found your blog (or maybe you found mine…?) However it came to be, I need it! I can’t wait to learn from you, and I sincerely want to go back to the days in my life when we had people around our table on a frequent basis. These days, we’re having a hard time getting there ourselves! But, we’re working on it! :-)

  2. Sandy, how do you know so much about brand names? Duncan Phyffe I know, but I have never heard of any brand of table linens, much less Vent Du Sud! How do you know if something’s good when you see it? I would hate to end up with just more junk…

  3. Hi Sandy,

    Thanks for your comment on my blog a few weeks ago. I was just reading your profile and realized that you and your husband are authors. I work for a Christian organization called Leadership Catalyst (with 3 authors). Some of you comments about men hiding behind a smile and how some of us make the mistake of wanting to be perfect in our entertaining relates directly to one of their books. You should check out This book talks about how we all hide behind masks and what God truly wants from us is to trust Him and others with who we REALLY are, not who we want others to think we are. It’s all about how God loves us even on our worst day and he knows our hearts anyway so we don’t need to pretend with him!! What a great promise. It’s really an awesome book and is organically sweeping the country and beyond with it’s message of grace. Check it out. You won’t be sorry.

  4. Hi Sandy! Thanks for commenting on my blog. I have really enjoyed reading yours. You have certainly listed many of my fears about entertaining. Thanks for the encouragement! I think you are right on the target regarding being hospitable.

    As for the picture you look like you are thinking, “Oh gosh, I think we might be out of nutmeg!” (or some other item)

  5. Sndy, Thanks for visiting my blog. This is a great idea for a blog. I’ll return often! I read an article that I think is so true. It said we have lost a lot of our neighborhood closeness because people are afraid they will not equal what the “homemaking diva” can do, so therefore they just don’t. Nothing wrong with inviting people over for a bowl of soup at the last minute> As you have said fellowship is more important than food and table service.

  6. Sandy, sooo excited about your trip with your husband to Wales! I have never gone out of the country… I can’t imagine! Look forward to hearing all about it!
    I agree about adapting… making entertaining work for you and your situation. We too, lived in a 1000 sq. ft. home for many years while our kids were little and we entertained much more than we do now!
    I was so desperate for adult conversations… I made it happen with what I had… and with very little money… cuz what mattered was the fellowship.

  7. Bless you! Yes, your words are encouraging. The buffet style idea is a GREAT one!! Thank you. I fully agree; the conversation, fellowship and time together matters most. I need to let my worries about space/size just go. (And my name is Emily; this is my first time posting on a blog so I hit “Anonymous” inadvertently! oops)

  8. Hey, thanks for checking out my blog. Our first home was 1100 sq ft and we had gatherings there with sometimes 30 people. What I learned was to use a buffet style approach with a large group, by setting the food up on the bar or the table, and letting people mingle, sitting around the house or even standing. If a couple came over that had kids, we’d let all the kids eat at the table first, send them off to watch a movie, then quickly transform the table and we’d sit down to an adult candlelit dinner . Once again it wasn’t the setting that mattered as much as the conversation that flowed. At that time we were young couples just happy to have adult conversation. I even had tupperware parties and showers in my home, packing out my small house. I hope this response helps you out! Sounds like you have a great gift to use :)

  9. I have been reading your blog since hearing you on KDOV and really appreciate and enjoy it. I have a heart and passion for hospitality BUT struggle because we logistically are so limited. We live in a townhouse w/a very small living room and a table that seats 4, 5 max. So although my heart longs to serve, I find myself doing it outside of my home. I am blessed by your encouragement but feel that the reality of limitations are not that easily resolved…

  10. I luv that picture! Talk about reluctantly entertaining! :oD

  11. And I agree things don’t have to be perfect. Our kitchen needs remodeling .. in a bad way! But it doesn’t stop me from putting out a good meal :) I like the backwards mentality.
    Hey, you didn’t comment on my “worried” picture! ha

  12. When we were first married and gutting and redoing our house I wanted to have company over, but knew it would be a long time until all the work was done. So I decided to go ahead and invite people anyway, even with bare stud walls in the dining area and limited cooking skills. I figured a home was for sharing and if nothing else, guests would go home from a night with us feeling better about their homes and abilities. That’s sort of become my backwards hospitality motto–if things go wrong when our guests are here, they’ll feel better about themselves! It lets me relax more and our guests always get to experience the “real” side of us somehow, disconcerting as it can be to them!

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