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The Meaning of Hospitality with Sue Donaldson

meaning of hospitality

by | Dec 13, 2021 | Q&A

At some point in your life, you may have had to open your home to receive other people. As you share a meal, converse, and learn about each other, you start to build connections. But as an inspirational speaker, life mentor, and author, Sue Donaldson tells us that the meaning of hospitality is more than having a guest over. Hospitality is creating bonds, but it’s also paving the way for people to know God. 

In this episode, Sue describes why we should practice hospitality and why it’s more than just entertaining guests. She shares a few anecdotes on how she continues to connect with others despite the pandemic and gives valuable advice and tips for people to become better hosts. Lastly, she discusses her insights on how hospitality can help you find your life’s legacy. 

If you want to learn more about the true meaning of hospitality, then tune in to this episode.

About Sue

Sue Donaldson is a professional Christian speaker with more than 25 years of experience gathering and mentoring people. She loves speaking in large groups to guide people toward the light of God and specializes in women’s retreats and day conferences. Currently, she offers seven retreat series to choose from, but she can also craft speeches relevant to a theme of your choice.

Sue is an outstanding speaker and mentor and has also written four books to help you spread God’s love to your friends, family, and community. Her books are about starting conversations, bringing people to your table, and of course, hospitality. You can find all her books and more on her website.

If you want to learn more about Sue, you may contact her by visiting her website. Alternatively, follow her on Facebook or Instagram. You can also listen to her podcast to learn more about the meaning of hospitality and find the light of God.

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:
  1. Learn how to practice the meaning of hospitality in guiding people to know God
  2. Sue shares ways to receive someone in a hospitable and loving way.
  3. Discover how to apply hospitality in every situation



Episode Highlights

[01:59] What Sue Does

  • Sue is a speaker, author, and mentor on spiritual growth and connecting with God. 
  • She is a people-gatherer who loves to invite people over for a hot meal or a good conversation. 
  • Sue’s no Martha Stewart, but she’s willing to cook with you or share a recipe or two. 

[06:55] Challenges in Connecting to People During the Pandemic

  • She still has people over. However, because of the pandemic, she needs to limit the number of people she invites. 
  • Sue can’t have full-blown gatherings anymore. However, Sue always looks for the silver linings: her two adult children came home. 
  • The pandemic also accentuated her message that we should be more aware of life’s brevity.
  • Sue’s had to be intentional about when and where she hosts her gatherings and who she invites.

[12:14] Handling Online Events

  • Sue tried pre-recording one of her talks for an online event but doesn’t care for it. She prefers to see people’s faces live.
  • However, she still did a couple of virtual events.
  • Sue also cut her typical speech time of 45 minutes to 20 and provided group facilitator questions.
  • The best way to comprehend and internalize the Holy Spirit’s message is to discuss it immediately.
  • She always allows time for Q&A.

[18:05] Importance and Meaning of Hospitality

  • God is the ultimate host, and He invited us first. So, if we want to be more like Him, we should practice hospitality. 
  • Someone may not know about God, but they’re willing to come over for a meal or drink. They may not know it, but your hospitality is God’s way of pursuing them.
  • One meaning of hospitality is showing God’s love to people. It doesn’t have to be homemade or grand. It can be as simple as coffee and donuts.

[24:53] Hospitality in Listening

  • Listening is one of the best aspects of hospitality. When someone feels heard, they feel loved. 
  • God calls us to pour out our hearts to him. 
  • When you listen to your friend’s anger or worries and turn them over to God, this is another meaning of hospitality.
  • Hospitality in its biggest, wonderful, and smallest form is taking people to the feet of Jesus.

[28:58] Growing Up to Learn the Meaning of Hospitality

  • Sue grew up with imperfect hospitality, but she was the fourth of five siblings.
  • She wrote an article on why we should be hospitable, but she realized she needed to know about other people’s experiences too.
  • To learn the meaning of hospitality, you have to practice it. It gets easier over time if you practice it repeatedly.

[34:28] Hospitality Versus Entertainment

  • When we have an image of what hospitality should be, it blocks us from the true meaning of hospitality: God’s way.
  • When you’re entertaining guests, you focus on yourself. When you do that, it means you’re either proud or insecure. 
  • To help you stay confident, learn one recipe and become very good at it. Do it well, and it can save any meal. 
  • If we are only entertaining, we can’t serve the person God has graciously brought to our table. 

[37:15] Why People Don’t Practice Hospitality

  • Some people were not raised in a hospitable home, so they are not comfortable doing it. 
  • However, you must break the “chain of un-grace” for the sake of the gospel, your children, and yourself.
  • Others don’t practice hospitality because they fear embarrassment. However, you can train the people in your household to practice the true meaning of hospitality.
  • Some people think hospitality is synonymous with food, but it’s not.
  • There are many reasons why people don’t practice hospitality. Tune in to the full episode to hear Sue’s discussion on how to practice it anyway!

[42:18] Service and the Meaning of Hospitality

  • The core of Sue’s message is service.
  • There’s a difference between going out to serve others and inviting someone into your home.
  • If people think you’re perfect, they might not share their vulnerabilities with you.

[46:44] How Hospitality Brings People Together

  • First, you have to pray before your guests come over to develop your hospitality antenna. Your hospitality antenna helps you detect who you’re supposed to invite into your life. 
  • There are people who you’ll invite who aren’t your favorite people. Sometimes these are the people who need you the most.
  • Conversation starters are a great help and a blessing because it’s fun. By using them, you get to know people better.
  • Listen to the episode for Sue’s stories on how a conversation starter can build a deep connection with someone in your home!

[56:21] Defining a Legacy

  • You must ask the question: “What are you doing now to build into eternity?”
  • Sue defines legacy as having to do with people or God’s words because they both last forever. 
  • We need to show and become a representation of God’s love to others.
  • Legacy is not something we wait for after we die. 

[01:06:43] Seek, Go, Create 

  • Sue chose “create” because she wants to create an atmosphere of love, acceptance, hospitality, and good food. 
  • Churches usually invite Susan to talk at event centers, retreat centers, hotels, and the like. Sue also speaks during Christian women’s events.
  • As a speaker, she can also talk about topics that can cater to different group types.

5 Powerful Quotes from this Episode

[09:05] “People need to know that this life is not all there is. I mean, we wake up in the morning, we don’t think, ‘Today I’m going to die.’ But people did die…And I want people, myself included, to be more aware of the brevity of life.”

[20:09] “There are no deadlines to come into God. We open our door, even in COVID. That means going somewhere where we’re sitting outside in the rain with an umbrella, and God has called us to get to know that person. That is hospitality.”

[31:07] “And isn’t that the truth? When we’re insecure in who we are and not counting on God’s confidence, we are afraid to show our failings.”

[35:50] “The difference between hospitality and entertaining, is that entertaining, you’re focusing on yourself. And whenever we focus on ourselves, we’re either proud or we’re insecure. And either one means that we can’t really serve this person that God has graciously brought to our table.”

[47:01] “There are people who have been in my home that are not my favorite people. I think God has given us natural affinities to certain people. But those are the ones that perhaps need your focus the most. So you have to get over yourself.”

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