What is the Gift of Hospitality?

woman holding a bowl of green beans, about to place it on a dining table set for thanksgiving.

Before I define the gift of hospitality, it may help to point out what life would look like without hospitality.

You would never stop over to a friend’s house for a meal. There would be no Thanksgiving dinners with family gathered around a big table.

You wouldn’t have a place to stay when visiting a new city, nor anywhere to eat. In fact, there wouldn’t be any hotels or restaurants.

You’d never enjoy a beverage with your neighbors on the back deck. In other words, it would be a sad, lonely world without hospitality!

It’s also helpful to think of hotels and restaurants as a starting point toward understanding hospitality. You don’t know anyone there, but they welcome you in, serve you food and beverage, attend to your needs, give you a room full of amenities to enjoy, and a bed to rest in overnight.

Granted, you pay them to do that. And that is where the hospitality industry and the gift of hospitality differ.

When a Christian uses their gift of hospitality, they aren’t expecting payment. No return favor is needed. They are serving others without need for an exchange, and they do so joyfully.

They do this because they have what’s called a spiritual gift.

Spiritual gifts

Below are three Bible passages that describe spiritual gifts. There are few more, but these are the most commonly used passages.

1 Corinthians 12: 8–10 NIV
To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.

Romans 12: 6–8 NIV
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement;if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

1 Peter 4:9–10 NIV
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

In addition to wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, prophesying, serving, and others listed above, hospitality is a spiritual gift. It is given by the Holy Spirit, by God’s grace, and it’s used to serve others. Each Christian is given a different gift, and that is what enables the church to function and care for the needs of its members.

The gift of hospitality

You may know someone (possibly yourself!) who has this gift of hospitality.

They often host people for a meal, or invite a group of people over to watch the game. They perhaps made you feel welcome on your first day on the job and showed you where the coffee machine and office supplies were.

They introduced themselves to you at a party or at church, and took a moment to get to know you a little better. They invited you in when you had nowhere to go, whether for an afternoon or for a few weeks (or months!).

If the answer is yes to several of these questions, this person may very well have the gift of hospitality.

Questions to ask

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to determine if you may have the gift of hospitality:

  • Do you enjoy inviting people into your home for a meal?
  • Do you have a knack for making people feel welcome, whether that’s in your own home, at church, at work, or elsewhere?
  • Do people feel comfortable stopping by your home unannounced?
  • Are you able to anticipate the needs of guests and strangers?
  • Do you joyfully provide for the needs of your guests?
  • Is your home open to people who might need a place to stay while passing through?

The gift of hospitality can be used in many forms. Here’s a post that I did on various uses of hospitality, and what that looks like.


It is important to note that the Bible passages above were written in Greek. The Greek word for hospitality is “philoxenia”, which translates, “love of strangers.” In the time that the Bible was written, it was much more common to invite a stranger into your home. Inns were scarce, and travel was long by foot.

The trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem, for example, was 80 miles (that’s the route that Mary and Joseph took right before Jesus was born). So understandably, people in Jesus’ time would have needed a place to stay as they traveled. Housing complete strangers for a night was common.

Hospitality today

Even with that context, the translation of “love of strangers” still applies to us today.

If we only love our family and friends, and people who are like us, what kind of love would that be? That kind of love is easy, and it’s a love that is often repaid.

When we entertain a stranger, however, there’s a very real possibility that the guest may not be able to pay us back.

When we open our homes, and give our time and resources away joyfully to make others feel welcome, that’s when we’re using the gift of hospitality.

It’s living thoughtfully and generously toward others to ensure they feel welcome, included, and loved.

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below:

Do you have the gift of hospitality or know someone who does?

How have you seen it at work to bless others?

How have you been blessed by it yourself?

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  1. Though I absolutely love hosting others, I never knew what people meant when they said I “make them feel like home.” After taking a spiritual gift test, God has revealed to me that this is MY GIFT from HIM. It all makes so much sense. I am so thankful!!! Thank you Heavenly Father

  2. I never thought I had this gift, but it is now clear that I do… especially
    to be a place to sojourn, especially for people in crisis. When I daydream about winning a million dollars, I immediately think about creating safe, restorative places for people to be. I do this with my own home as well. Fortunately, my husband is extremely hospitable and loves to cook for a crowd! It’s amazing to see how God grows new gifts in an old Christian!

  3. Hi Kate!
    Its me Adrian(boochie) 😉 I had a question for you,. Can I use Cream cheese in the Ambrosia salad instead of Sour cream?

    PS. The boys are soo cute!!!

    1. Hi Boochie!! Yes—you can substitute cream cheese. And thank you!! 🙂

      1. Also, hope you are doing well and healing from surgery a few months ago!

  4. I feel there is a desperate need for the gift of hospitality. To come into a place and feel unwanted, especially in the church, is so sad. We need people with father and mother hearts, who feel all is welcome, and love to express this welcoming heart. Many would not leave or feel excluded/rejected if we would practice this gift.

  5. I love this topic on hospitality because it does open doors for great opportunity. Just like Abraham who entertained Angels not knowing and they left him with a blessing. We still serve the same God.

    1. AMEN, I was thinking about that same passage that reminds us to be kind to all people as we may have unwittingly entertained angels.

      1. Yes! Gives me chills just thinking of it—we never know who the Lord is sending our way!

  6. What a refreshing and insightful take on hospitality! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Hello Kate,

    Have you read Henri Nouwens “Reaching out” in the context the gift of hospitality? I’d be intereted to hear your thoughts about this.

    Kind regards


  8. I have the gift of hospitality too. But I use it at church where I have gotten over my shyness so that I can now go up to total strangers before the service and start to enjoy their company. People have noticed this and remark that I have the gift of hospitality. I get the impression that, because they think they don’t have the gift, they don’t have to engage with newcomers *at all*. Does not having “the gift” let people off the hook for being welcoming? What do you think?

    1. Hi Dan, thanks for your comment! That’s so good to hear about your gift of hospitality—it’s so encouraging to hear how the Holy Spirit’s prompting and your obedience now makes newcomers feel welcome at your church. I agree that we (the church) can get caught up in the whole “I don’t have that gift so I don’t have to (fill in the blank).” I do think we are all called to hospitality (1 Peter 4:9). Whether or not it’s an “official” spiritual gift or not is debated, but just because we don’t have a gift doesn’t mean we aren’t called to practice it. I’m thinking of gifts such as evangelism, giving, compassion, and shepherding as other examples.

  9. Hello, I loved your article. I have the gift of hospitality. I didn’t realize it for a very long time. It’s just who I am. I love having people over to my house for a meal or just to hang out.I love to have people stay all night if they need a place to stay. I’ve opened my house to exchange students. To my husband’s hunting buddies. I just enjoy having them and serving them. I enjoy helping people with my time and my resources and I never expect payment, I don’t even think about it. I have had so many people come into my home and tell me that it just feels homey. It’s feels very comfortable to them. I’m not a big decorator I don’t have a showroom house. I just have a welcome spirit and a house that has minimal stuff that can be damaged even by children so that I can invite children over also. I never thought it was any big deal to have the gift of hospitality. I thought it was a very small gift because I thought it was so easy to do. But I’ve heard people lately tell me what great hospitality I have and how that is so bizarre to them. And then I’ve been places where I did not feel welcomed and it was a strange feeling for me because I’ve always welcomed people in. So I guess everybody out there does not possess the gift of hospitality. Thank goodness God made us all different so we could be one body!

    1. Hi Kim, thank you so much for your comment! You certainly sound like you have the gift of hospitality. You said it perfectly—it’s not about the showroom house but instead about a welcome spirit. <3 Your family, friends, and guests are very blessed to have you in their lives!

  10. Hi
    Thank you for your explanation on the spiritual gift of hospitality. Some tell me I have the gift of serving and some tell me I have the gift of hospitality. I don’t always fill hospitable and when I serve , I just want to do it all. I was 5 when my Mom died, was the middle child and had 4 brothers. I took on the role of caring for my brothers so I attribute, my wanting to do everything by myself to that part of my life. Do you have a check list for the spiritual gift of serving.

    1. Hi Carol, thanks so much for your comment! I’d recommend taking an online spiritual gifts test (almost all of them are free—just search for one online) to see where you land. People often have one dominant gift but are also strongly gifted in a couple of other areas.

  11. I would love to really develop my gift of hospitality. Do you have any suggestions on how to use this gift and even to make it a vocation?
    Could you send me everything you have on hospitality?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Ranger, thanks for your comment! I love that you want to develop the gift of hospitality. I think the best way to practice hospitality is to be open to the needs of others around you. Do you know someone who might be in need of a good conversation, who you could invite over coffee or even a home-cooked meal? Or is there someone going through a life transition who you could support with a word of encouragement or a meal? Hospitality can be practiced in so many ways (it doesn’t have to be food, though that’s often how I practice it!). As a Christian, I ask God to open my eyes to ways that I can serve others around me, and He always answers. 🙂

  12. Glad to see your website and more glad to see how you are using your spiritual gifts for the glory of God.

    And by the way I liked your test to check whether one has the gift of Hospitality – I knew that Hospitality is not my spiritual gift. And the test confirmed it! Different members in the body have different roles. All work together in a body and Christ is glorified.
    May the love of God and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you and your family!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment! Indeed—I’m so glad that everyone has a different role and we can come together to BE the church. Happy Easter to you and your family!

  13. I came to live in Jamaica in 2009. As the years went by I knew my spiritual gift was hospitality and it had worked well in the United States. Everything was so different here. I couldn’t seem to make it work and I even said to others my spiritual gifts are just not working in a different culture – but that didn’t really make sense to me. Well, God came through and now we have people passing through in our home ALL the time. And I love it. Many of them express they feel a peacefulness in this house – which is a little hard to come by in this noisy nation. I think I was focusing too much on using the gift WITHIN the church and missing the opportunity to use it for everyone.

    1. Hi Sandra, thank you for sharing! What a testament to God’s faithfulness in revealing how to use your gifts in a different culture. I can only imagine how people have been blessed with you faithfully using and sharing your gifts!

  14. I work at a hotel and everyone is expected to and, as you noted, paid to be hospitable. However, there are certain people at the hotel who selflessly serve without seeking praise and recognition. It’s an innate gift. These people don’t walk around the hotel telling everyone about their extraordinary care. They commit daily acts of kindness and think nothing of it because it’s who they are. I’m working towards being more like them. My type-A personality keeps me so task oriented that I don’t make the time to be really see people which keeps me from being genuinely hospitable. I believe the Holy Spirit has provided me with the fruit of kindness but it’s not as strong as it can be. I pray that He does a good work in me.

    1. Love this, Heather! I’ve been the recipient of the extraordinary care that you describe and it made me feel so cared for and quite frankly, special. Then I tell people about it so it’s great marketing, too. 🙂 And you DO have the fruit of kindness. You can tell by your desire to provide that extraordinary care, even if you don’t do it right all the time (which none of us do :)).

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