As Christians, we know that we should always show hospitality and the love of Christ to others in need. We should be ready and willing to open up our homes to those in need and those that we would like to have opportunities to witness to. But one thing can often get in the way of that. And that is the state of our homes.
I know that, for me personally, this is the one thing that always gets me when it comes to having a spirit of hospitality towards others. If our home isn’t clean and picked up, then I don’t have the right mindset to welcome others into our home. And this isn’t right. Because no matter what, we should always be ready to open our arms and our homes to others.
So let’s talk about some ways that you can make sure you (and your home) are guest ready all the time. This way the state of your home (and your heart) won’t be standing in the way of being God’s hands and feet towards others.
Prepare your heart to receive guests anytime
This is where it all starts. Because, really and truly, what matters the most is that you are demonstrating a welcoming heart to others. And whether your home is messy or not messy doesn’t play as big of a role as this. Now, I will say that it’s a gift to others to make sure your home is clean and picked up because people tend to be more comfortable in clean and orderly spaces. Clutter and messiness can often bring about stress in others.
However, ultimately what makes a difference is your attitude about inviting them in. People can pick up on this stuff. And when you are physically opening the doors of your home but your heart isn’t in it, people can tell. So the very first step is to prepare your heart to be open to receiving guests anytime, even if it’s out of the blue and the worst timing ever.
But how can we do that? Let’s talk about that for a moment.
View your home as God’s home and you are a steward of it
Everything we have in our lives should be given up to the Lord. He is the one who blesses us with food, beautiful families, jobs that provide financially…and the homes that we live in. Ultimately this is God’s home and we are being stewards of it, as with all the other things in our lives.
When we begin to view the things we have (and our homes included) as the Lord’s and we are just taking care of it, then we start to act a bit differently towards it. So instead of asking yourself, “do I want to invite this person into MY home?”, ask yourself, “does GOD want me to invite this person into HIS home?” More often than not you’ll find the answer to be yes.
Resources to help cultivate a heart of hospitality in your life
If you find yourself struggling with hospitality, there are a lot of great resources out there that can help. Be sure to check out the hospitality sections within my homemaking resources post here, and also I have some hospitality Bible studies listed here you could try. Check these things out, there are a lot of great tools out there to help you learn and grow in this area of your life!
Practical tips to keep your house clean and “guest-ready”
Once you’ve prepared your heart, it’s time to prepare your home to be clean, tidy, and guest-ready all the time. This way, the state of your house will not stand in the way and won’t weigh down on you when it comes to opening up your home to guests.
Get everything initially de-cluttered and cleaned
The first thing you’ll want to do is to get your home de-cluttered and cleaned. All the other steps in this list will help you to maintain an already clean and de-cluttered home. So take some time to really dig in and get everything in order. Pay special focus to those areas that guests will see and go to. This will be different in every home, but focus on these areas first and foremost.
Never leave a room empty handed (leave a room as you left it)
One of the best things you can do to keep your home de-cluttered and cleaned is to keep the rooms you leave as you left them (once they are already clean and de-cluttered). So if you bring a book into the living room to read, then put it back on the bookshelf when you’re done. If you have a cup of coffee in your chair by the window, then take it to the kitchen when you leave. Get into the habit of looking around the room you’re leaving for anything that you can put away on your way out. Doing this regularly will make a huge difference in the state of your home.
Put dishes into the dishwasher as you use them throughout the day
Dishes can be such a huge source of clutter and nastiness if left un-maintained. It’s always going to be a reality, so developing a system that will help you stay on top of it all the time is vital. Try to run a load of dishes every night, empty it in the morning, and then throughout the day put your dishes right into the empty dishwasher. This will greatly reduce the time you spend doing dishes, and it will make sure there aren’t dirty dishes around your home if a guest randomly shows up.
Make a place for everything and keep everything in its place
When things don’t have a place to go, they will begin to pile up (believe me, I know! lol). So the old motto, “a place for everything and everything in it’s place” is particularly important to keeping a de-cluttered home. When new things come into your home designate a place that it will go right away, and put it there. This way you can always know where to put things back when you’re done with them and nothing will end up lingering in spaces for too long because you don’t know where to put them.
Develop a cleaning rotation schedule for the areas in your home
A cleaning rotation schedule will help you to stay on top of the cleaning tasks you need to do in your home. This kind of cleaning was made most popular by FlyLady, but there are a lot of ways to do it. I use an app on my phone called HomeRoutines which allows you to create different zones within your home (entirely customizable) so that you can spend 15-30 minutes each day cleaning one area and then move on to the next area the next week.
Make cleaning the areas guests will see the highest priority
As you work on keeping your home clean and de-cluttered, always focus first and foremost on the areas that guests would see if they came. The living area, kitchen, bathrooms, etc. are all areas that guests might end up if they stopped by. Focus on keeping these areas the cleanest if you find yourself overwhelmed by a cleaning schedule. These are the areas that will make the most impact if you find yourself faced with last minute guests. And if these areas look great, you won’t be as stressed.
Get dressed every morning
Having your home ready is important, but are YOU ready if a guest pops by last minute? Do you walk around in your sweatpants all day? Trust me, I’m not judging, I’m guilty of this too, my friend. But it’s important that we are prepared to receive guests as well as our homes. If your home is nice and tidy but you are a disheveled mess then you simply won’t feel comfortable welcoming guests into your house. So take the time to get dressed every morning, even if it’s just a simple pair of jeans and a t-shirt. You will feel so much better that you did when someone stops by unannounced.
Don’t sweat the small stuff…i.e. you are allowed to LIVE in your home
Being guest ready is one thing. Have a clean and tidy home is wonderful and enables you to be ready and willing to welcome anyone into your home at a moment’s notice. But it’s also important to realize that it’s okay if it looks like you actually live in your home. Guests won’t mind if they see a book on the coffee table, or you left your toothpaste tube on the bathroom counter. Keeping things neat and tidy is great, but having an open heart is of the most importance. So don’t sweat the small stuff, and don’t get too stressed if everything isn’t perfect. Just welcome them with open arms and you have done your duty as a steward of the home God has blessed you with.
Being guest ready is about more than having a clean home
Having your house clean and tidy is an important part of being guest ready, but it isn’t the only part. Demonstrating hospitality is about more than having a clean home, it’s also about preparing your heart to receive guests into the home that God has put in your stewardship.
So take time to prepare your heart and your home for any last minute guests and open up your arms to those who come to you, just as Jesus would do.
“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” – Hebrews 13:2