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Scott Allen September 21, 2016

Leadership Conversation – Hospitable

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We are moving through the list of qualities and qualifications for Leadership found in 1 Timothy chapter 3 and in Titus.  Today we land on the word Hospitable.  The obvious question here is this.   Is he hospitable?  Didn’t expect that deep of a question did you?  No, there’s a deeper question here and we’ll get to that in a moment.  What do you picture when you hear this word – Hospitable?  Some people picture inviting someone over for an evening of lasagna dinner and conversation.  Or someone inviting another person into the house, having some iced tea available…Maybe for some people, the word describes a person who is open and friendly…not selfish with their attention, their space or their things.  At the most basic of levels, the leaders of a church should be people who are willing to break bread with others…to have members in their homes for meals and conversation.  Ideally, these leader’s homes should be warm and inviting.

Although the word hospitality does reflect these ideas, we need to look back at who the audience was and how they understood this word, “Hospitable.”

In the ancient world, when people would travel, they had to rely on the hospitality of others for food and shelter.  Sometimes these were family relatives in neighboring towns on their way to wherever they may be going.  But oftentimes, people had to rely on the hospitality of strangers…it was a common practice…it was cultural…it was a social contract between moral and upright people.  Why did they impose on each other?  Because the inns weren’t anything like they are today.  The inns were anything but clean. These were dirty and dangerous places where thieves, outcasts and the lower social classes would frequent.   With this in mind, it was probably a good thing that there was no room in the inn for Mary and Joseph…maybe that was God keeping them safe. 

The word hospitality describes the act of someone opening his home for guests to stay.  Not just for a meal…not just for a few hours…In these days, the homeowner was really at the mercy of the ones he opens his house to.  These sudden guests might stay days or even weeks on end.  This is not the hospitality we are accustomed to.  This type of hospitality involved sacrifice and cost a great deal in time, space, money and effort. Even today extreme cases in some African villages where this type of hospitality is still practiced, some people have gone poor showing hospitality to others, people who wouldn’t leave.  This was always the possibility in Israel.  With Hospitality, there’s always a little bit of risk involved. 

In other words, Paul’s question is: will this man think of others before himself?  Church folk need constant attention. I know their crises rarely come at convenient times. A good elder recognizes, however, that these frustrating folk are beloved of God and are “bought with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).  So, the deeper question here is this,  “Is this man willing to be inconvenienced for others?” 

Churches need leaders who aren’t just going to pay attention to those who have it all together.  They need leaders who are willing to risk their time, attention and comfort for those people who need some of their time, attention and comfort.   

Who do you know that displays this type of hospitality?    Maybe you’ve already experienced it.  Maybe it’s time you show it to others…after all, hasn’t God already shown it to us?