I’m hosting my friend Leslie Verner on the blog to discuss her new book, Invited. One reader will receive a signed copy of the book, just leave a comment below or on the social media link where you found the post. A random drawing will be held on Friday, August 16th, 2019.

Since writing a book called Invited: The Power of Hospitality in an Age of Loneliness, I’ve noticed many people have a nearly visceral reaction to the word “hospitality.” They either “love” it, or they are already skittering to the streets as they try and outrun the negative connotations. But what if we re-thought hospitality? Redefined it, even? What if it was just a bit simpler and easier to swallow? Here are a few ideas anyone can tackle in attempting to practice more hospitality:

1. Say no.

“Sorry, I’m too busy/have too much going on/already have plans …” are common refrains in American society. One way to show hospitality is to say no to busyness and frantic living. When we say no to another lesson, sport, or activity for our kids or ourselves, we reserve time in our lives for spontaneous hospitality and unplanned connection with people.

What happens when we step into slowness and retain a buffer in our schedules reserved for relationship, rest, and wonder? We begin to notice the living, breathing souls right around us. We have time for them. We may even get to know their names, feel known, and start to feel less lonely ourselves.

2. Say yes.

It’s easier for me to offer hospitality than to receive hospitality from others. As we risk the discomfort of giving up control, we learn the humility necessary for relationships to start. Has someone asked you into their life recently? What did you say?

When we refuse busyness, we’ll have more opportunities to say yes to pausing on the sidewalk to chat with a neighbor. We might have more energy to invite someone over spontaneously or ask someone to meet us at a park or outdoor concert. Clearing away the extraneous clutter in our lives leaves space for us to say yes when God nudges us to ask, invite, or welcome outside our comfort levels.

3. Respect the Zone of Hospitality.

I stumbled on an article recently meant for hotel staff, but have begun to apply it to my own life. It describes the “10 and 5 Staff Rule.” The rule goes like this: If you pass within ten feet of someone, called the “zone of hospitality,” you make eye contact and “warmly smile” at a person. When you are within five feet of them, this smile is accompanied by a greeting or some kind of gesture of acknowledgment.

While it seems obvious (and visits to the south prove the regional nature of the head nod, steering-wheel-finger-wave, and vocal greeting), I’ve started doing this here in Colorado. Mostly, I greet the people I pass on my runs. I often think to myself, What if I’m the only person who smiles at them or acknowledges them all day long? Some days, hospitality looks like a simple smile and a head nod to a stranger.

4. Just Invite.

Admittedly, mustering up the nerve to put ourselves out there and risk rejection is the hardest part of hospitality. But the truth is that it takes very little effort on our part to send a text to someone we’ve been wanting to get to know. We pull out our phones, swipe to our text messaging app, and tap out: “Hey! Can you come over sometime?” And then we worry about the details when “sometime” comes around.


Invited: The power of Hospitality in an Age of Loneliness releases on August 13, 2019.  Check out the details here.