Pastoral Timing is Everything

This has been a crazy busy week. This morning I am packing and preparing for a teen program called “Feed the Kids.” Several local Churches take turns providing a meal for High School students once a week through the school year. We took a day in the fall and now a day in the spring. It is a great experience but it takes a lot of work. While I was running around this morning I have received a couple emails and a phone call that I will need to handle later.

This is what I have learned about myself in 20 plus years of ministry. I am not very pastoral before any big event, including Sundays. Let me be 100% honest – I do not handle people well before Church.

It happens almost every week. Someone comes in before Church and they have had a rough week and they want to talk. Or maybe they have even had a great week and they want to share. I am sad and I am happy for them … but I am a terrible pastor at that time. I listen halfheartedly. I give awful advice.

The reason is obvious, I am focused on what I have to say, what is going on at the sound booth, and how everything is flowing. I am distracted by the immediately event.

The flip side to this. I am a much better pastor after an event. Most weeks I stay at the Church for an hour to an hour and a half after the program is over. I talk, listen and share with great joy. Personally, I feel like I can be a pastor because the event it over and my mind is clear (usually).

I do not know if this is true for every pastor, but I know it is true for me. People seem to get frustrated with me because they have had something big happen through the week so they show up early to talk to me about it. Then I don’t have the time, so they leave right after worship when I do have the time. I am not sure if this happens to every pastor, but my guess is that it does.

So my advice for any Church member today is to remember that pastoral timing is everything. If you choose the right time to open up, I bet your pastor will handle it well. Don’t know what that time is? Then ask him, I bet he knows. Honestly, we all want to help each other … when the time is right.

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