Pastoral thoughts from a United Methodist in Western Kentucky (USA)
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Seizing Opportunities to Disciple
One of my hobbies is voyeurism. Now before someone runs off and files church charges on me, know that I simply like to watch people in public. When I go to a mall, to Walmart, or a bookstore, I enjoy just sitting down and watching people come and go, usually with a cup of coffee in my hand to enhance my “cover.”
I took the picture above from my vacation seat at the Kentucky Sweet 16 boys basketball tournament in Lexington, KY. Kentucky is one of the last states to still have an open tournament – there are no classifications in basketball regarding school size. The best team in each of the 16 regions of Kentucky are here, and Rupp Arena is usually filled (the picture is how the view looks from my seat). As a result, you’re going to see white collar folks, blue collar folks, urban folks, rural folks, black folks, and white folks.
It’s pure heaven for someone like me who likes to watch people.
Whether it’s waiting in line for an ice cream cone, going into the hotel lobby for a Starbucks coffee, or sitting in one of the hotel lounges that inevitably fills with coaches, die hard fans, and officials from across the state – you see a lot of different people, and you hear a lot of different conversations.
While some of these conversations are light, there are others that become quite intense. Maybe it’s the anonymity of being in a different place, the freedom of being on vacation away from a stressful life, or the loosening of tongues in a lounge after a drink or two, but in overhearing some conversations (and becoming a participant in a few), I find that there are a lot of people in pain and in need of healing. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t wear my clerical collar everywhere, but I’ve never been ashamed to share faith, good news, and the healing Word when the opportunity presents itself. Sometimes these opportunities have led to further conversation at another time, occasionally they have led to an office visit or lunch, and once in a while they’ve gotten someone to church and the faith.
We Christians need to perfect the craft of “pro-active listening.” There’s a lot of pain out there, and we should be the experts in helping people heal. We just need to seize the opportunities, in the name of Jesus.