Sunday, December 19, 2010

Phone Calls for the Pastor

It is routine for Pastors to get phone calls from their people in time of trouble or difficulty.  Most of the time these phone calls do not ask the Pastor for much of anything.  Many do ask for his prayers.  Some have specific needs which require some action or another.  But in most cases, the person is calling to unload his heart of weighty concern -- be it personal, another family member, job related, illness related, or about a death.

Sometimes folks regard these as kind of intrusions upon the Pastor's private time (now there are two interesting words for a Pastor to put together -- private time?!).  More often than not, these calls are not all that urgent.  Another day or few hours would not make much difference with respect to the need.

Although some Pastors and often the Pastor's family may regard these as intrusions, I welcome them.  I welcome them not because I have great wisdom to share or my prayers availeth more than theirs but because it is a sign of their trust and affection for me as their Pastor.  These phone calls are the subtle affirmations of a deep and abiding pastoral relationship.  They call me because they know me and trust me and they know I care for them and care about them.  It is a great privilege to be included in the hurts and wounds of them or their families and I do not take such phone calls lightly -- even when there is nothing I can but listen to them.

These phone calls are important not only to the folks who make them but to me to whom they are directed.  I worry about those Pastors who do not get such calls (or, increasingly, emails, texts, and facebook messages).  It is often a sign of their distance from their people and this is not a good thing.  Sure, when the Pastor is new and the pastoral relationship is just being explored, these calls may come less frequently.  One of the great benefits of a longer pastorate is that they come all the time.  I sometimes get irritated when calls come to me about stuff like "do you know who turned down the heat in our Sunday school room" or "why was the light left on the choir room last night" and I really dislike the calls at all hours of the night when the fire alarm company lets us know they have a trouble signal (not a fire alarm but a signal saying something is not quite right with the mechanism).  But I rarely get irritated about the calls from my people who want me to know what is happening in their lives.  This is the subtle affirmation of a deep, abiding, and positive pastoral relationship and bond with my people.  And that, my friends, is a good thing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps also it is a form of private confession and absolution?

Maybe more needs to be said about this neglected sacrament in our churches - not faulting you, but this sacrament is much neglected today.