I like food, which makes me no different from anyone else. Until I read The Hospitable Leader though, I hadn’t given much thought to the role food plays in effective leadership.
Terry A. Smith’s new book is about much more than food, as he calls on leaders (and those aspiring to leadership) to consciously develop a culture of hospitality in what they do. He draws on years of experience and observation to make his conclusions.
I hadn’t really thought much about the role of food in Jesus’ life and ministry, and what His example means for us today. I knew about the last supper, of course, and about the feeding of the five thousand. I knew how important sharing a meal was (and still is) in Middle Eastern culture. But I hadn’t thought through what an attitude of hospitality means regarding leadership.
Food breaks down barriers and builds bridges. Time spent over a meal can bring about new understandings and a common experience from which to build. The way Smith puts it, hospitality means more than just food; it’s an attitude you can bring to all aspects of life.
Each chapter ends with three “take-homes” (such as “People are our pleasure, not our problem) that summarize the main points and provide food for thought. I suppose if you were in a hurry, as so many of us seem to be these days, you could get a lot out of just reading those points – though you would miss all the stories and the fullness of the message.
Smith is a pastor by vocation, I gather fairly well known though I hadn’t heard of him before, but this volume is aimed at Christian and non-Christian alike. If you are interested in leadership, in becoming a better leader, there are points here worth pondering.
I’ve read all the Bible stories before, but I realize I hadn’t really thought through some of them. One story alone, seen in a new light, made The Hospitable Leader worth reading.
After his resurrection Jesus appeared to his followers on many occasions. Frequently there was food involved. The incident that struck me most as I read this book involved Jesus on the beach calling to the apostles, who had been fishing all night, to come and eat.
That story suddenly hit me in a way it hadn’t before. The savior of the universe cooked breakfast for a group of hungry fishermen. After they had eaten, those fishermen went out and changed the world. Jesus led them and inspired them through acts of hospitality. If it is good enough for him, it should be good enough for the rest of us.
“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.”