Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Cup of Cool Water

A church member—a kind church member—called me today to see if I was all right. We had been in a group together earlier in the day and he said that it seemed to him that I had something on my mind or that I was worried about something. I later asked my wife, who had been in the group, too, if I had seemed different than usual that morning. She told me that I had been quieter than normal. So I guess that my friend was picking up on something; he at least thought that he was.

I admitted to him that I was burdened by some situations in the life of the church but that I was fine. That was the truth. There are always matters in church life that weigh on the pastor and these days there are a few extra ones. Really, though, outside of being a bit weary, I’m doing well.

I have to confess that, even though I was fine when the church member called, I was a lot better after he called.

I’m an odd duck in a way—ok, I’m an odd duck in a lot of ways—but the oddity that I have in mind is that I don’t like to exhibit my needs in front of people. I hate to admit it, but I’m even reticent to ask people, particularly people in my church, to pray for me when I need it. I’m not sure why. Perhaps I don’t want to appear weak; perhaps I don’t want to seem needy; perhaps I don’t want to be vulnerable. Maybe I’m afraid of appearing manipulative, as if somehow letting people know that I’m in need will seem to be an attempt to curry favor or to elicit sympathy. No doubt such sharing by a pastor can be overdone, but on the other hand the church I serve as pastor is also the church I participate in as a Christian. It’s a delicate balance.

And let’s face it—there are a few people in every church, or at least in most churches—who celebrate the failings of their fellow church members and who practically revel in the frailties of their ministers.

But this church member called me only because he was concerned about me; he took time out of his busy schedule to phone me just because he wanted to make sure that I was ok. I’ll go so far as to say that he called to check on me because, in Christ, he loves me. And, had I admitted to some real struggle or had I confessed some difficult quandary, I have no doubt that he would have done anything in the world to help me and no one but he and I would have ever known about it.

It was just a simple act of basic Christian kindness, but it made my day.

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