Friday, August 16, 2013

When Guests Don't Show

       In opening our home in hospitality, we also open ourselves to the potential of guests who do not show up.  Over the last few years, we have seen a fair share of guests who do not respond to invites, cancel at the last minute, or simply do not show up. After the effort extended in offering an invite, cleaning our home and preparing a meal to serve many the lack of response on the part of our guest(s) stirs all sorts of ugly emotions. While this response may be understandable, it is not acceptable! I cannot control the negative situation that may become of my hospitality effort, but I can direct my response. Choosing a proper attitude or perspective, an appropriate meal and a cleanliness standard are simple approaches that maintain hospitality as a positive aspect of life, home, and family.
      Perhaps one reason I have taken personal offense when guests don’t show is that I’ve focused so much on me, my home, and my food. While I’m delighted to gather with others, the truth of my effort is to show off. When my efforts are unrewarded, I become upset. I contend that the invitees are inconsiderate, rude, and undeserving of my efforts. Even if I accept gathering together on a future occasion, I may demand an rsvp or a more prompt cancellation notice. The attitude is entirely selfish!  While no-show guests are disappointing, it remains an opportunity for me to work on having a better attitude and response.
     The greatest attitude adjustor is grace. When I want to react negativity to a hospitality “fail,” my husband reminds me to be understanding and grace-giving towards others. He does this by simply modeling this response. What good is hospitality if it destroys my character in the meanwhile? To learn to be more understanding and grace-giving towards others is perhaps one of the greatest outcomes of hospitality. God can use it to a work in us, even when it’s unsuspected and hard. Defeating selfishness is a worthy learning process to work on continuously in life.
     Another perspective that changes a negative hospitality experience is to consider the heart of hospitality. Hospitality is about blessing, not impressing. The state of you, your home, and your food really does not matter. Skip the house tour. Keep the meal simple. Be intentional about building a meaningful relationship with each guest. That’s what it’s all about! In his book, Selfishness: From Loving Yourself to Loving Your Neighbor  Lou Priolo asserts that love is the antidote of selfishness. He contends, “The more you love God and your neighbor, the less selfish (sinful) you will be.” We glorify God in how well we truly love others. A rotten attitude defeats the goal of glorifying God through hospitality.
      I’ve learned a few practical ways to prepare for the potential of no-show guests. On some hospitality occasions we’ve had ten individuals arrive, and other times we’ve had none. Consequently, I’ve gained a few strategies that allow us to be prepared for any number of guests. First, I try to keep from overly fussing over myself or my home being perfectly presentable. I don’t fret over a few things here and there being out of place. Honestly, I want people to see the real me and our real home, not a phony presentation.
     One effort I do fuss over is the meal we’ll serve. Yet, I keep it as simple as can be. I like to imagine someone simply joining us for dinner one evening instead of attending an event. A few of the criteria we try to stick to in selecting a meal to serve include affordability and ease at which we can rework the leftovers or store them. I think one of the frustrations of no-show hospitality is having made a large amount of food and then being stuck with it. Most of the meals we make are also ones we can adjust the portion at the time needed or we can freeze. A few we’ve served recently:
  • lasagna
  • spaghetti & meatballs (Determined amount of pasta needed when all guests arrived &     then froze leftover sauce and meatballs)
  • mini meatloaves (cooked meatloaf in muffin pan for individuals servings. Leftovers    could be frozen)
  • vegetable soup (Leftovers frozen)
  • mini chicken pot pies (cooked in a muffin pan for individual servings. Leftovers could be  frozen)
  • tacos (Ground meat can be frozen)
      Hospitality is an ongoing effort to incorporate in our home and life more and more.  It’s not always easy to continue the intention when guests no-show. However, a few disappointments are no reason for giving up on a worthy endeavor. Furthermore, hospitality in which guests no-show certainly is not reason to permit a poor development and showing of Christ-like character. I must choose to prepare with flexibility, push aside selfishness and other negative responses, and look to the positives (like a tidy home & meals in the freezer!). It’s a work, and one I’m still in the midst of. Strangely enough, each time a guest doesn’t show is an opportunity for God to do that work within me. God can use guests showing or no showing to hospitality invites. I simply must allow Him to do so.  

Additional Reading:

1 comment:

  1. Great tips! This is the first time I've seen anyone talk about when guests don't show. Seems a lot of people only talk about when it goes well, lol. Thank you for sharing!


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