In trying to make sense of our crazy busy lives, it’s not always easy to tell when honest hard work and commendable responsibility slide over into people pleasing and pride.

Let me suggest one diagnostic tool that may help. As you find yourself anxious and overwhelmed by the needs of others, or simply by your desire to serve others, ask this question: “Am I trying to do them good or trying to look good?”

Consider, for example, how this question might sanctify our approach to hospitality.

Opening our home to others is a wonderful gift and a ne­glected discipline in the church. But we easily forget the whole point of hospitality. Think of it this way: Good hospital-ity is making your home a hospital. The idea is that friends and family and the wounded and weary people come to your home and leave helped and refreshed.

And yet, too often hospital­ity is a nerve-wracking experience for hosts and guests alike. Instead of setting our guests at ease, we set them on edge by telling them how bad the food will be, and what a mess the house is, and how sorry we are for the kids’ behavior. We get worked up and crazy busy in all the wrong ways because we are more concerned about looking good than with doing good. So instead of our encouraging those we host, they feel compelled to encourage us with constant reassurances that everything is just fine.

Opening our homes takes time, but it doesn’t have to take over our lives. Christian hospitality has much more to do with good relationships than with good food. There is a fine line between care and cumber. In many instances, less ado would serve better.

It’s okay to be busy at times. You can’t love and serve oth­ers without giving of your time. So work hard; work long; work often. Just remember it’s not supposed to be about you. Feed people, not your pride.

Adapted from my forthcoming book Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem.

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Comments:


6 thoughts on “Doing Good or Looking Good?”

  1. kyle says:

    Really enjoyed this post! This couldn’t be truer than with hospitality. Something so simple and vital in God’s purpose- the original, organic venue for the church life- can become an elaborate and exhausting task. When the simple joy of opening our homes for fellowship and mutual care starts becoming a chore, we should be alerted that maybe we’re doing something wrong.

  2. anaquaduck says:

    A Mary & Martha moment, as much as there is great satisfaction in having all the jobs done & out of the way, learning to relax can be as much a spiritual discipline as many others. Some things must take precedence over others in order to receive the intended blessing. The joy of fellowship & hospitality.

  3. JohnM says:

    Well okay, the apologies are not necessary, but I don’t think I’ve ever exactly been “set on edge” by self-deprecatory hosts. If we want to put guests – and hosts – at ease how about just not taking everything so serious all the time? Yes we (honestly now, women mostly) do make hospitality an ordeal.I’m not sure viewing hospitality as a grim matter of ministering to ” wounded and weary people” helps in that regard. There is a time and place for that of course, but I don’t think that has to be the point every time.

  4. Erin M. says:

    Thanks for hosting us recently! We all enjoyed catching up with you. Sounds like I’d find your upcoming book relevant to my life.

  5. Kevin DeYoung says:

    It was great to see you guys again! Thanks for stopping over.

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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