Peter, a leader among the apostles, writes:
And above all things, have fervent love among yourselves, for love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. (I Peter 4:8-9)Peter writes as though the natural expression of love is hospitality. And still we are slow to open our homes to each other.
Peter wrote to all the members of the church: that we should offer hospitality to each other. If hospitality is required of the members, then how much more for the leaders. Paul lists it among the qualifications of a church leader:
An overseer must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach. (1 Timothy 3:2)For church leaders, hospitality was given priority even over the ability to teach. I don't mean to neglect being blameless and all that; it tops off Paul's list. But the other things that Paul names are things we generally still expect of our church leaders. Why don't we expect leaders who are given to hospitality?
I have sometimes heard church leaders congratulate themselves on how they've finally stood up to their parishioners, who have asked: Shouldn't their parishioners be hospitable to them? Why then do the parishioners have any right to complain that their pastor never visits them or invites them over, if they have never taken the initiative and invited their pastor?
But the church leaders are called to lead -- and to lead by example. The thing about leading by example is that we're always setting an example, just maybe not a good one. If the church leaders do not invite their people and do not visit their people, they are leading all the same: they are showing by example that hospitality is not important here.
God calls us to be his people in the world. We become a people when we know and love each other. So the leader builds that group together by showing hospitality, and fellowship grows where people are welcomed.