Interesting People are Interested People

A wise man said, “Interesting people are interested people.” It’s true right? Who do we love to spend time with? Who do we want to call up randomly for dinner or a drink?

Someone who’s engaged, who nods and “mmhmms” and laughs and asks questions. Someone who carries the conversation, sharing personal stories, and drawing out ours.

Tim Elmore calls this the difference between “hosts” and “guests.” A host is someone who serves others not only at home, but everywhere he or she goes by hosting the conversation, taking the weight of question asking, and bearing the responsibility to guide conversation.

A guest is someone who lets others do the work. She talks about herself. She never asks questions. After a long silence, he feels no responsibility to bear the burden of guiding conversation.

Do we settle for being guests? I know I do. When I’m tired after a long day of work. When I’m out with new people. When I’m not the “natural” leader.

Hosts incarnate the character of Jesus, who “did not please himself” but sought his neighbor’s good by bearing the burden of his sin. Jesus bore more than sins, he bore conversations. He actively hosted wherever he went. At dinner parties he asked questions, guided conversation, and brought up interesting topics. He never settled for superficial interactions, but worked hard to draw out people.

Hosting like Jesus doesn’t require a particular personality type. We need not be extroverted, or funny, or charismatic. Someone can be all of these things without being a good host; they may entertain and stir up laughter, but it’s selfish. People leave saying, “I had a good time,” but not, “I feel refreshed and cared for.”

Some of the best hosts I know are introverted, uncharismatic, and dry. That’s good news, because hosting is a universal calling! Paul commands us to “seek to show hospitality” (Rom. 12:13). Peter says to “show hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9).

Jesus’ example shows what we truly need to host: active love. Active love genuinely seeks to do good and honor others. It desires to know more, to understand people, to refresh them and encourage them, and draw them out.

One of the best hosts I know is my wife. A friend recently told me that whenever she chats with my wife, she feels like the most important person in the world. My wife has an incredible knack for asking questions, and it makes people feel loved and significant.

What most people don’t realize, is that it takes her a lot of work. She enjoys asking questions, but it’s not easy! Conversation doesn’t appear out of thin air. She thinks hard, and listens carefully.A It’s taxing business, but she refuses to pass the buck.

Let’s ask ourselves: are we perpetual hosts or a perpetual guests?

Jesus wants to empower us with grace to grow as hosts. If you’ve never tried being a host, ask for his help, then start tonight when you get home (with your roommates or wife or kids). Read a book like this, or a blog or two on how to ask questions.

Let me close with a special appeal to men. Too many women bear the burden of hospitality. Men sit by passively as their wives do all the hard work of leading conversation. For every four female hosts it feels like there’s one male host. What the church needs are men who engage others more deeply than sports and work. Yes, it takes work, but it’s worth it. People will feel loved and refreshed and surprised by you.

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