When I was 15 years old I was on a soccer team that was in the process of looking for coach. One night at practice we were brought together for a meeting and our team manager announced who our new coach was going to be. When they said the name, the first thing out of my mouth was “that guy used to live in my basement!” If you want to get a lot of weird looks, be a teenage girl and announce to your peers that a 30-something man used to live in your basement.
This was pretty normal fare at my house growing up. We had a few different people live with us for a summer or so. My parents made it a point to show uncommon hospitality. The difference between them and so many American Christians is that they know their house isn’t just for them.
As a Christian, having economic means or having a large house becomes problematic at times. If you follow after Christ and you have a large home you have probably wrestled at some point with downsizing and using those extra funds for Kingdom work like missions, giving, etc.
It’s not wrong to have a big house. It’s more about why you have a big house and what you use it for.
If you bought a 10,000 square foot home only so people could look at you and say, “wow, they are a big deal” then that’s problematic. Matthew 19:24 states “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Money distracts us, deters us, and we all too often think it defines us. The reason the Rich man struggles to enter the Kingdom isn’t because he has economic means, it’s because of his heart and his motives.
Being generous doesn’t solely mean you can write a large check to a cause, you can be generous in ways other than just giving money. Your home can be a source of generosity.
Our houses shouldn’t be just for us. This looks different in various seasons of life. When we only had one kid we had a few different people live with us for extended periods of time. One time it was a friend from home who was moving to Houston and was in a state of transition. This was probably the best decision we ever made because she thought doing dishes was therapeutic. One time it was my brother who needed somewhere to land for a few months between college graduation and starting his first job. He did not think doing dishes was therapeutic but we had some great times and some really heated games of Scattergories. Then one summer we housed two of Clint’s youth interns so we had a baby and a frat house upstairs.
When you open your doors and use your guest rooms for their actual intention, guests, it reaps relational benefits for all parties involved. For empty nesters this may look like taking people in, for some it may look like becoming foster parents or providing respite care.
Your house may be maxed out on space for long-term guests but your house can still be used for ministry. In your kitchen you can make a dinner for a friend who is undergoing chemo treatments or for a family who is welcoming a new baby. On your back porch you can sit and talk with a friend who is going through a rough patch. At your dining room table you can share a meal with that neighbor you are wanting to know better, a family who is new to the area, or that new colleague at work.
We all have things we can be generous with. It doesn’t have to be money; it can be our time, our talents, and in some cases a spare room.
And someday I hope and pray our kids get confused looks because of all of the people who have lived in our (Texas) basement.