Every year, the pastors of The Rock Church go to our National Pastor’s Conference. There’s a tradition, one night during the week of meetings, when we go to a grocery store (or a gas station), get some snacks, and head to the hotel lobby to spend time together. We’ll play games, joke around, and laugh a lot. It has become something I really look forward to each year.
At our conference this past summer, I had my Funyuns and Gummy Worms ready to go; I had just cracked open a fresh Sprite and Jeromy Darling joined us. He’s a Worship Leader from The Rock Church in Minnesota (a sister church of ours) and I was looking forward to keeping up the junk food tradition while picking Jeromy’s brain about music. As we started talking, a man with a neck brace and a big garbage bag full of his belongings walked into the lobby. He wasn’t staying at the hotel. I’m not quite sure why he came in, but he stopped at our table, right next to Jeromy. He started asking a few questions.
In the moment, I just wanted to answer his questions politely (and as closed-ended as possible) so he would leave. Then I could get back to my game, get back to my normal, comfortable conversation. Get back to the tradition. Jeromy, however, started asking that man questions. He wasn’t just asking him “small talk” questions, he was asking him questions with long answers. Questions about his family, questions about his hobbies, his life, his addictions.
I was so convicted by this experience. I had a hard heart and just wanted the man to go away. Jeromy had exactly the opposite reaction. He (and a few of the other pastors) sat there and asked more questions. They had a loving conversation with him until he finally picked up his bag and left —with a smile on his face. I have no idea when the last time that stranger felt important and listened to. I could tell he loved it.
I can get so caught up in my routine, my schedule, my traditions, that I miss the important things. I can miss the simple act of loving or encouraging someone by just saying a few words or asking a few questions.
Let’s change our traditions of solitude and get out of our comfort zones. Let’s be a light in this world and engage with people until they feel important. Let’s remind people of the fact that we are all made in the image and likeness of God, so we are all special, valuable and important. Let’s make our tradition be considering others better than ourselves and showing them the love of Christ.
Looking forward to the next uncomfortable conversation,
Posted in A Word from the Pastor