Friday, February 28, 2014

the power of hospitality

This past week our campus welcomed a team from our accreditation body, formally known as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).  The team, comprised of faculty and staff from peer institutions, came to see how we were doing with our remote locations...and I am pleased to announce that they were more than complimentary on what they observed.  Several times throughout the visit, they complimented us on our hospitality and thanked us for treating them well.  When all was said and done, I believe it they left with a good impression of Concordia University Texas - both in how we run and operate the institution - and in how we treat our guests.

There is great power in hospitality because it creates a picture of who you are and how you make things happen.  When one feels welcome, they believe that all is well in paradise...when one is welcome, they are willing to forgive the little mistakes that can arise...when one is welcome, they feel a part of the family and will give you the benefit of the doubt...when one is welcome, they will work with you to achieve greatness...when one is welcome, there exists a camaraderie that builds bonds that last a lifetime.  So how might one exhibit this type of hospitality?  Three ideas:

  1. Create an hospitable environment: is the room/house/office/building clean?  have you taken the time to tidy up the room feel at ease? are the candles lit, the music playing, and the food ready? are you ready to receive the people and not running around at the last minute? is your desk cleaned off? are there enough chairs in the room? is the table set (feel free to apply that metaphor in multiple ways)? in other words, is everything in place so that your guests feel as if they are the most important people in the room?
  2. Do for one what you wish you could do for all: I used to be the type of person who felt I need to spend equal time with everyone at a gathering I hosted so that no one would feel left out.  I soon discovered that no one got my best and I receive nothing from the group.  Once I started focusing my attention on the person in front of me and spent as much time as was needed there, things changed.  Going deep with one or two people shows the crowd that you care - and that you believe each person is important enough to spend quality time with them (even if they do not get you that time around).
  3. Be authentically hospitable: if your are practicing hospitality only to get a result, your guests will see right through that.  However, if you are truly hospitable from the inside out, everyone will know that as well.  Having an hospitable spirit is one of the spiritual gifts mentioned in the Christian Bible - Romans 12:13 encourages others to "practice hospitality."  For me, this does not mean having to gregarious and outgoing; rather, it is the ability to really care for the other in a way that makes them comfortable, especially when they enter a strange place.
So do a quick inventory:
  • how hospitable is your organization to guests and strangers?
  • how hospitable is your home to friends and neighbors?
  • hos hospitable is your office to colleagues and guests?
  • how hospitable is your classroom to students?
  • how hospitable is your waiting room to vendors and patients?
  • how hospitable is your entrance and foyer to first time visitors?
  • how hospitable are you when encountering the stranger for the first time?
"Love must be sincere,  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need.  PRACTICE HOSPITALITY (Romans 12:9-13).

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