by Jessi Uran | 5-minute read
Someone asked me once if I was ever nervous that my husband was going to talk about me or tell an embarrassing story about me in his sermons. I said, “No. I’m not nervous. Because he knows who makes his lunch for him when we get home.”
All joking aside, I have a smart man who is not about to expose his wife’s weaknesses from the platform. So I thought I’d take matters into my own hands and take off the filter that might be applied to anyone in full-time ministry with their spouse — that we have it all down when it comes to Biblical hospitality.
In the name of transparency, here are the top five things I am currently learning or re-learning when it comes to the transformational practice of hospitality.
1. Need doesn’t always dictate ministry.
I like to run ahead of the Spirit’s leading. If a need is placed in front of me, then I deduce that it is my job, nay my spiritual responsibility, to fix it. Not only is this narcissistic, but it also is exhausting and robs me of joy in relationships. To commit with an outward “yes” but an inward “no” has only ever left me feeling resentful and burned out.
Whether it’s obsessing about the types of meals I want to serve people or who sits next to whom, and what the topics of conversation will be, I often default to what I’ve done in the past. I want to use every mental faculty to concoct the perfect event. Sure, the details are one way to love others well. But if left unchecked, I sometimes use them to try to manufacture life or joy that only the Spirit can give.
3. Don’t drag someone on the roller coaster if they don’t want to ride.
My poor husband. For years I made him chase after my every whim of “good will.” I bludgeoned him with shaming statements like, “Well I guess you’re just not there yet,” or “Wow, the Lord has a lot of work to do with you when it comes to generosity.” Ouch. As it turns out, my spouse also hears from the Lord (who knew?). And when he and I are not aligned on something, I’m starting to see that we can explore ideas and submit to one another as we decide how to proceed together.
4. Know how to commit, and how to quit.
Ending something, or stepping down for a season, is something I initially shy away from. Don’t be a quitter! We hear this often growing up, but sometimes I take it to the extreme. As if toughing something out gains me extra points. Or that if I endure this and watch other things fall apart in my life at the altar of hospitality, I must be that much more holy or invested. Of course there are times when long-suffering is indeed appropriate. But I’m learning that sometimes God’s grace allows something to end.
5. Shut up.
Blame it on our culture of constant noise, my need for control, or perhaps just the awkwardness that silence can bring. But as long as I can remember, my interactions usually have included an inner voice urging me to think of the next question or comment. As if somehow being silent for a moment would wreck the whole relationship. When I put away my machine-gun style approach to conversation, sharing happens in a natural, organic way.
You get a car! And you get a car!
Three months ago, I came home convinced that the only possible way to help love someone in her time of need was to buy her a car. We had become friends because the Spirit crossed our paths in a miraculous way. As I learned some of her struggles by letting her lead conversations, I felt compelled to flip what I assumed was an obvious switch. I would do the grand gesture — empty our savings and save the day for someone who was hurting. I had the script all written in my mind. There would be Hallmark movie-level tears and lots of hugging. All I had to do was get my husband on board and we’d be set!
Turns out, my spouse was not feeling compelled to obliterate our savings account. He even said, “I don’t think it’s wise. I also don’t think that’s the core of what she needs right now.”
What?! How could that NOT be what she needs?
I was angry for a few days. But as the Lord ministered to both of us and we suggested various ideas to one another, we saw other things the Spirit had in store. Instead of playing Oprah and writing a giant check, when schedules allow we are able to give rides, go on grocery trips together or eat hot dogs and mac & cheese at our house. Ultimately, the Lord knew that what she and I both needed was one another’s friendship. It created opportunities for gospel conversation.
During this tethering of our hearts, I’ve shakily gone back and forth between flesh and Spirit. I’ve stumbled on old habits (see numbers 1 through 5 above). Yet, I am not without hope.
What beautifully orchestrated bookends the Lord has put together in these past three sermon series. Spirit power. Gospel hospitality. And now, godly wisdom. It all brings home the point that we cannot accomplish anything of value without the life-giving Spirit and the life-giving Word.
What freedom this brings! If I surrender to the Spirit and submit to wisdom from his life-giving Word, these two pillars will hem me in and hold me up. My strivings can go out the window. Because it will simply be my job to listen, respond and allow our hospitable God to do what he does best, through me.