Last week I was dropping my kids off at their first day of school and crossed paths with a pastor friend of mine and his wife that I have known for several years. In the course of conversation I shared with them what had been going on in my personal life over the past year.
Now without getting into details about my personal life (which really doesn’t matter for the most part), the point of this story isn’t my story at all – it’s the pastor and his wife who listened to me share it.
At first I was very reluctant to tell them much at all. I made the usual small talk, we talked about the kids, youth sports, jobs… yet when they asked me certain questions, I felt inclined to clue them in on what had been happening in my personal life. In those situations, I am never sure how much to share, but nonetheless I gave them the short version of the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. No vague generalities of pretending everything is fine and dandy, but I told them exactly what was going on, as tactfully and gracefully as I could muster.
I was touched by their response. No solutions offered, no advice, no “pastoral” attitude, no trite sayings, no prayer…. they just listened. After I was done sharing I thanked them for listening to me “spill my guts” and appreciated them taking the time out of their day… and then the three of us started walking home.
As we reached my house and it was time to say goodbye the most amazing thing happened. The pastor and his wife gave me an invitation that I couldn’t refuse.
No… they didn’t invite me to come to their church.
No… they didn’t invite me to join them for a small group meeting.
No… they didn’t invite me to join hands with them and pray for my life.
No… they didn’t do anything vaguely resembling what a “good” pastor might do.
No… what they did was extraordinarily human-like.
They invited me (and my kids) to their home to hang out and watch TV with their family.
And guess what? I said I would… and then we shook hands and hugged goodbye.
Simple. Easy. Effective. Relevant.