"To love is to give one's time. We never give the impression that we care when we are in a hurry. Too many social and pastoral counselors are people in a hurry. Hence, people admire their devotion and doubt their love. I am ever struck by the tranquility in which Christ walked along, always having time to speak with a poor woman beside a well, or replying to the stupid questions of his disciples the very eve of His passion. To exercise a spiritual ministry means to take time. If we want to save our time for more important matters than a soul, we are but tradesmen."- Paul Tournier, Escape from Loneliness
"More and more, the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them. I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn't be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, but you truly love them."- Henri Nouwen, Gracias
Nouwen's words and desire truly resonates with me. As a pastor, the best and most memorable moments weren't doing, but rather being. Being with people. Hanging out. No agenda. No pre-designed purpose. No structure. Just being present.
Too often we use the catch phrase in the church that we want to "Do Life Together". That is our definition of community. Although, we believe that if we repeat, Do Life Together, often enough, somehow it will come true.
Doing Life Together happens in the margins of our life. Doing Life Together isn't splashy, it's ordinary. It happens during the simple and during the all too common moments of our life.
Doing Life Together isn't rushed and you can't microwave it. It takes time and investment. Like farming land, relationship talks cultivation and care.
Doing Life Together often comes at unexpected moments. Doing Life Together may inconvenience us and our schedule. It doesn't happen on our terms. We can't organize it, control it and manage it.
Doing Life Together is a value, not a program. You can't compel it. It doesn't flourish motivated by duty or obligation.
I seen too often, that the church wants people to share their lives with one another...and too often I have seen those in the church living lives of obscene busyness, isolation and disconnection.
Who are we to blame? Pastors like me and others, who measure their worth and success by their busyness and activity at the expense of just loving and "being" with God's people.
People will follow our cues, model our behavior and assimilate our values.