Yesterday, I visited with a couple who have been attending our Sunday worship services. At one point in the conversation, they shared with me some personal information, and added that they were very nervous about talking about it. They didn’t know how I would react. They wondered if they would still be accepted.
As I sat there listening, I also sent up a quick prayer, “Just help me to listen, Lord.” Though there were lots of things I could have said in response, I just needed to listen and hear their story. I did say I appreciated their honesty, and asked a few follow-up questions to make sure I understood the situation.
I don’t feel it’s appropriate for me to share any of our conversation, but I can share some things I’ve learned about myself. In the moment, I did try to ask myself how Jesus would respond. I like to think he would have simply listened, which could say more than any verbal response. I also wondered, “Why are they sharing this with me?” Clearly there was a level of trust and the hope that their admission wouldn’t change anything. Whether I like it or not, I represent, to some people and to some extent, God himself. I hardly feel up to that role, but that is how people approach a pastor.
Over the years, I’ve learned that I don’t have to fix things or set people straight on the spot. I can talk it over with God, trust him to be at work in a situation, and realize that some situations take time to resolve. And that’s OK.