You know those pastors that just show up at your house with very little warning? That was Keith. It drove me crazy. I may or may not have given warnings to friends if he mentioned “stopping by” to chat. (They always appreciated the heads up.) I remember the first time it happened to me. We had hosted the youth group to our home the night before. Everything got cleaned up except a HUGE bowl of shredded lettuce. It wouldn’t fit in my fridge, so I ignored it. The next morning, Keith called. “I’ll be there in 15 minutes.” My husband waits five minutes (of course) and then tells me that my new boss is coming to our house in (now) ten minutes. I scramble. Bathrooms checked. Kids clothed. Bedroom doors shut. A quick vacuum. Crap. The lettuce. By this time, it’s a nauseating shade of brown…and I can smell it. Gross. I do what every good quick thinker does, I put it in my kid’s room with the door shut. Except that when Madelyn (who was five at the time) opens the door to greet Keith, she immediately tells him how hilarious it is that her mom is hiding stinky, brown lettuce in her room. Face. Palm.
See, Keith was almost old enough to be my dad, but he was new to the whole pastor role. He was not new to ministry. He was very well read and had a lifetime that was rich in faith based leadership experiences. He was a practiced listener who held strong convictions about hearing from the specific people of this specific congregation. Zero politics. He was there because he loved the people, and people loved him for it. I often joked that he had “Keith dust.” He could sprinkle it in any given church member to put them at ease. Talk about a super power!
Still, I assumed it would be “interesting” to watch his personal approach to pastorate be established. I had no idea how he would take me…the (at that time) emo kidmin who was barely hangin on. On one hand, I’m chill and reasonable. On the other hand, I have so much going on in my mind, that I often find a simple explanation difficult. When I decide that a situation is “awkward” (regardless if it is or not), I have to just sit quietly. The more I try, the worse it gets. For lots of years, I just sat quietly. I was afraid to say what was on my mind because I was overwhelmed with how to “perfectly” organize/edit/deliver it. With that said, there’s not much I like more that sitting around a table listening to people talk about church life. #staffmeetings #churchnerd How do we make this or that better? How can we help our adults that have special needs? Where do we put signs? Keith had no expectations for staff meetings; he was learning as he went. It didn’t take me long to figure out exactly how he was going to take me. Just like showing up on my doorstep, he didn’t care if it was messy. He just wanted to hear what I had to say.
I started prefacing my ideas/thoughts with this statement: “I’m gonna say ten things, but you only need to hear one or two of them. You gotta pick which ones.” This statement conceptualized a lot for me in ministry and in my personal life.
Keith gave me a safe place to say all ten of the things on my mind. He didn’t over analyze the eight things that didn’t apply. He appreciated them. Your crazy, extreme, emotion filled thoughts may just be the vehicle for the thoughts that are helpful/insightful.
Let people talk. When your mind starts picking apart every word, tell your mind to stop. Hear the heart of what people have to say. For me, it’s hardest when I’m arguing with my husband. I go into hyper analyze mode…cause I’m trying to win. We both can find flaws in each other’s arguments quicker than we can get sentences out. It makes for a ton of back and forth…and very little progress. To this day, I’ve never met anyone I like better than my husband. He’s my favorite human. I know his heart. I’m the most important person in his world…and he consistently gives his life for me. Why does all of that fly out of the window the moment he ticks me off? It doesn’t. Keep your eyes on loving people…not on every detail of what they say and do.