I’m often guilty of walking too fast through a crowd. My fast paced mental agenda brain feels like those old pinball machines. As soon as the church doors open, I’m the pinball that has been launched out of the narrow passageway bumping into this person (ding), talk to that person (ding), hug those two people (ding, ding). There are no bells for others to hear, but in my mind the dings are audible voices of “you’ve talked long enough, now go on to the next person.” As if the more people I hug and talk to the more points I score.
I think many ministry wives feel a tug of “I should be talking to everyone.” Whether you’re type A and hyperactive about it, or Type B and intimidated by it; we all feel that sense of responsibility.
One Sunday, I grew tired of the sentences that began with ” I know you’re busy but…”, or “I know you don’t have much time, but….” Face to face conversations began to feel like tweets. They had to happen in 15 words or less. I felt guilty that people felt like they had to be short and quick with me. One Sunday I decided to stop! I know it’s not profound, but at first it felt awkward. I looked around. Of course I’m always “looking around.” That’s my “job” right? To find that guest who needs a hand shake? But this time it was different. I found a lady I half knew and went and sat by her. I didn’t sit on the edge of the chair as if I might have to get up soon. I sat down as if it was a reprieve to be still by someone for a moment. As if she were my oasis. We began to talk. Genuinely. I didn’t know her well, but we talked about her kids. We talked about my kids. For 3 minutes we shared life. And it was different. It wasn’t the typical pastors-wife-how-are-you-glad-you’re-here-today conversation as I moved quickly past. I was all there. With her. In the moment.
I found when my ministry pace shifted, a place in my heart and mind shifted.
My heart shifted from feeling like all eyes are on me, to having eyes for the crowd. My mind shifted from I’m one of the important people in the room, to conveying to others their importance. It was a place of genuine Ministry, not pinball bounce here and there ministry; and it felt good. To both of us. The next Sunday I decided to try the 3-minute sit-down again. As I sat talking, I noticed the lady I spoke with last week, get up and go sit by someone else. And she has done it several time since. I wonder. I know that speaking to many people on a Sunday is important. But, what would happen if every Sunday I sat down for a 3 minute convo with someone? Kind of a less is more. I’m still experimenting on the long-term results, but I do know this. It has produced a few more rich conversations and less scattered ones. It slowed down my ministry pace. And I’ve watched others reproduce the same.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lori and her husband, Mike McDaniel, and their 3 children were missionaries in Africa before returning to plant Grace Point Church in Bentonville, AR where Mike is Lead Pastor. Lori serves as a Global Mission Catalyst with the IMB, mobilizing churches and leading women to participate in God’s global mission. Lori shares how everyday life can be a life on mission at lorimcdaniel.org.