by John David Hicks
When I was teaching at Canadian Nazarene College, a pastor friend was looking for a youth pastor for his church. I asked him what kind of person he was looking for. “Oh,” he said, “one that can play the guitar, sing, and is good with kids. He should have a good personality and be outgoing.”
“Those are all desirable traits,” I told him, “but God looks for something else in a leader. Paul told Timothy and Titus to look for two key things in a leader. Hospitality, because ministry comes out of relationships, and he must be teachable, so he can teach others.”
How would you define hospitality (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8)? The ministry of hospitality introduces people into the kingdom of God. “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20).
You are God’s representative of the message of reconciliation, and that message will come out in your hospitality and teaching.
Hospitality is an attribute of God and will be manifested in the lives of His children. In the Bible, hospitality focuses on loving-kindness toward the alien or stranger, widows or sojourners as an expression of God’s love. Hebrews 13:2 tells us, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hospitality is also a ministry to the saints. “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew18:20).
A life of hospitality begins and ends with a recognition of God’s grace and generosity. Hospitality is an act of Christian love and a mark of a mature Christian home. Sitting around the table, people will feel they are loved and accepted. Thus, one lady defined hospitality as “the kitchen is always open.”
In Romans 12, Paul summarizes what it means to be in Christian ministry. He first speaks about the lifestyle of leadership and hospitality. Then he adds the character qualities of humility, diligence, and love that will work in all circumstances. “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically” (Romans 12:9-11 nlt).
Hospitality is the door to discipleship and stewardship. By it we demonstrate that God owns everything we have. We are just caretakers of what God has given. He is the real owner. He is our Lord. Out of reverence, gratitude, and devotion to Him, we share His abundance and His love for what He has done for us.
Hospitality reaches out to give comfort. It is a willingness to share your time, your family, your home, your church, even your finances and food. A hospitable person is the first one to greet visitors at church and invite them home for fellowship or lunch. Hospitality is at the heart of ministry in the kingdom of God because it moves you into relationship with God and man. Hospitality affects eternity and is “a cup of cold water given in the name of the Lord.” Jesus says that it will be rewarded. You can never tell where the influence of hospitality will end.
How would you define a teachable person (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:9)? A teachable person has a spirit of humility. When a person thinks he knows it all, no one can teach him anything. A teachable person is willing to learn from anyone and can apply truth. Because he is a “doer” of the Word of God, he is learner-teachable. He can move out of his comfort zone and try something different and can even make mistakes. He can change his views and practices and admit when he is wrong. All because “if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
A disciple of Christ is someone who learns from Jesus by following Him and submitting to His teaching and lordship. Think about how Judas responded when Christ corrected him. The disciples were at Simon’s house and Mary anointed Jesus with expensive oil. Judas protested, saying that the oil could be sold for a year’s wages and given to the poor. Jesus then reproved Judas and said that what the woman has done will be told wherever the gospel is preached. The next verse declared that Judas went out and betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
Can you receive correction? Will you respond like Judas when someone tries to correct you? Will you get defensive or angry? Will you turn against your critics? To be teachable means that we must be willing to receive instruction and correction when someone gives it. Proverbs tells us if we listen to correction we will “dwell among the wise.” When you are not teachable, you will have to learn from your failures.
Basically, being teachable means that you have an attitude of learning and can accept advice and correction. In 2 Timothy 2:23-26, Paul says, “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”
The New Testament example of this ministry was Priscilla and Aquila. They used their home to give shelter and hospitality and teaching to those in need. Paul said they had great influence among the “Gentile churches” and he thanked them for risking their own lives for him (Romans 16:3-4). When Apollos came to speak in Ephesus, Priscilla and Aquila heard him and invited him to their home. They “explained to him the way of God more adequately” (Acts 18:26). Paul tells us that the result of having hospitality and a teachable spirit is that you will “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58 nasb). This person is God’s kind of leader!