Serving others showing hospitality and honour

Our world belongs to God. Though sin-stained, it bears the indelible marks of His goodness and grace. He appoints community leaders to maintain harmony, justice and mercy. Our political leaders serve at His will. Our Biblical responsibility is to respect, honour, pray for, encourage and critique with grace.

We need to consider ways of engaging with government and community leaders which both honour the Triune God and our leaders, based on honour and service. Hospitality is one way of building positive relationship with these leaders.

At a school I was previously serving in, our local federal member of parliament was a government minister. After some conversations with our Middle School Students we decided to invite him to lunch. We repeated that invitation to him, and other leaders, regularly. Hospitality, service and honour was being extended to these guests.

Students enthusiastically planned the menu, designed menu cards, the invitation, prepared the meal, created table decorations and enacted their assigned responsibilities. Several students researched the Minister’s roles and responsibilities and planned to congratulate and affirm the good initiatives that they discovered.

Upon his arrival at the school, they welcomed him at the carpark, escorted him to lunch, served the meal and engaged him in encouraging conversation. Two students prayed for him and his responsibilities. At the end the Minister remained seated and quizzically asked “But, what do you want from me?” Our students assured him that there was no other agenda and they would love to offer hospitality again. He returned on numerous occasions and was wonderfully engaging and relaxed with our students.

Two years later he suffered a serious heart attack and was hospitalised for major surgery. Our students spontaneously sent him cards and letters in an outpouring of genuine love and concern. When he was sufficiently recovered, he insisted upon visiting to express his immense gratitude for their concern and prayers. Our students learned that important people can be as vulnerable and broken as any other person.

At the next Federal election, our Minister lost his seat and decided to retire from political life. Two things remain in my memory. That evening, as he announced his departure from politics on national television; he was wearing our school windcheater! Three weeks later he phoned to say that he would miss the relationship with our school community. Naturally we told him that he would always be a welcome guest. He went on to say that he was going through all the papers in his office; most of which would be shredded. He wanted us to know however, that he’d just spent an hour reading all the cards and letters from our students and that he would be keeping them all.

This was not an addition to the curriculum – it was the curriculum with intent and purpose.