Written by Alan Colley, Host2Host Founding Member, former President & co-host of the Summit Prairie Fire Lookout Tower in Tiller, OR
At one time I was unsure of what the difference between covenants and contracts really was. What any of this had to do with hosting and welcoming guests was not something I gave thought to, until lately.
I had relegated “covenant” to the realm of religion and God. However, Max O. Depree*, who once led Herman Miller, Inc. as its President and CEO, wrote extensively about covenants in business relationships. I paid attention.
He said many times how important it was that we give earnest consideration to how we carried on our business in a “covenantal manner.”
It may seem like a reach to speak of contracts and covenants in the context of hosting and hospitality, but now I believe it’s entirely relevant. I have found that when I approach hosting as a kind of covenantal practice, it opens up avenues to honor my guests as worthy of my care.
Caring for their well-being is also caring for my own.
Over the years I have come to recognize how truly important covenants are with those with whom I work. Both contracts and covenants are important, but each approaches relationships from very different points of view. Real and lasting relationships are built on covenants.
I found this statement from UpCounsel to be very helpful: “Covenants are a type of contract, but they do not work like a contract. They are a trust-based promise that relies on your integrity and discipline. While contracts are enforceable by the courts, covenants depend on your values.”
● A contract is an agreement between parties while a covenant is a pledge.
● A contract is an agreement you can break while a covenant is a promise.
“Overall a covenant is a better way to build relationships both in business and in life. In a contract, if a person does not fulfill his obligation, then it gives the other party to back out as well. The same is not true in a covenant. You must hold up your promise even if others do not hold up their pledge.”
When we choose to invest in hospitality as a covenantal practice we begin to recognize that our engagement as hosts transcends the merely transactional.
Whether you agree with me or not, I simply invite you to think about this way of hosting. It might just move your engagement with your guests to a new, more satisfying, level.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this, too.
* You can read more. Max Depree has written three books on various issues about leadership: Leadership Is An Art, Leadership Jazz, Leading Without Power