Of Contracts, Covenants, and Hosting

Thu, July 27, 2023 7:01 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Written by Alan Colley, Host2Host Founding Member, former President & co-host of the Summit Prairie Fire Lookout Tower in Tiller, OR

Alan ColleyAt 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.

ContractI 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.

Person extending their hand“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

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