My Door Was Always Open

We have a new Jimmy John’s under construction in my small town. This is welcome news to many! Each Jimmy John’s establishment has a prominently displayed neon sign that declares, “Free Smells.” This is an unapologetic marketing strategy to entice customers to enter its doors. I’ve read online that “Free Smells” is the company’s longest running trademark and slogan; so apparently, it’s effective. Consumers respond positively to the subliminal message to “Come on in!”

An open door and a welcoming stance are ideals we have promoted repeatedly throughout our two-year “Belong” theme. Hospitality. Grace. These we desire to emulate in our day-to-day lives. I was surprised to read in the narrative of Job that he, too, maintained an open-door policy.

In his final defense to his friends, Job cites a laundry list of commendable practices to justify himself, including this: “No stranger had to spend the night in the street, for my door was always open to the traveler” (Job 31:32). Job’s friends had no response. The statements may have been true; we don’t know. What stopped the dialogue between Job and his friends? Job’s posture towards himself. We read: “So, these three men stopped answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes” (Job 32:1).

Job’s comments and underlying attitude essentially shut the door to further dialogue. A door that was open was now shut.

While reflecting on Job’s statement, “My door was always open,” I ran across a Harvard Business Review article titled “The Problem with Saying ‘My Door is Always Open,'” which gave food for thought.

The authors state that most people genuinely want to be approachable, but they often underestimate how risky it can feel for others to enter our space. An open-door policy assumes that other people will meet us on our territory. This is a dynamic we often take for granted. As the inviters, we can easily overlook the obstacles faced by the invited.

I invite you to reflect on the implications of these statements. Here are some questions to consider:

Am I effectively engaging with those around me? Am I approachable? If not, what might need to change?

Am I too busy? Am I driven by personal agendas? Do I feel I am not good enough for others? Too good?

Am I genuinely curious about other perspectives? Do I need to widen the circle of people I listen to?  

What about God? Do I have ears that are wakened to listen (see Isaiah 50:4)?

In Job’s experience, it wasn’t until God revealed Himself in majesty and power (Job 38–41) that Job, described as “blameless and upright” (Job 1:1), turned from his own goodness and repented (Job 42:6). Job emerged from his suffering and experienced both blessing and restoration. Now, Job could more fully live out the commands to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8).

It is my prayer that we will be known as women who graciously invite others into our own spaces and humbly walk through whatever open doors God provides.

Jen Vogel

Jen served as national director for Alliance Women from 2015-2023; she serves in a variety of ministry capacities, including on the President's Cabinet for The Alliance. She enjoys reading, travel, and completing the New York Times crossword puzzle daily. Jen and her husband, Doug, attend Dover Avenue Alliance Church in Orange City, Iowa.

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