The late Friday afternoon phone message

Photo by Jonah Pettrich on Unsplash

It happens a lot. When I get to my study at church on Monday morning, I find that someone left me a message late on Friday afternoon, somewhere in the neighborhood of 4:55 pm. Sometimes the message is important: someone is in the hospital or on the way to the emergency room. Sometimes it’s not urgent at all. A question about the church or even the bible (I really like those questions, but they’re rarely posed).

The thing is, I take Friday off. I’ve taken Friday as my day off for about thirty years. Some pastors take Mondays off. Fridays have always worked out better for me. I like to get a jump on the week on Mondays, and have a buffer at the end of the week before Sunday’s worship and preaching. Saturdays are a wild card day. I may spend a little time at church, or I may have a few visits to make that day. On Sundays, I’ve got plenty to think about and get ready for. My office administrator is there till 1:00 pm on Friday. So if wait until late Friday afternoon to call and leave a message, it may not be heard until Monday morning.

One day I realized that a late Friday message may be intentional. You know no one will answer the phone. You know you’ll have to leave a message. You won’t have to talk to an actual person. You can dump whatever you want, and it’s off your plate and on to theirs. Just like that. I advertise my cell phone and email, and have a broad social media presence, so I know you can get a hold of me in an emergency. But you chose to leave a message on the church phone when no one was around.

I will admit that there have been times when I’ve called someone and prayed that I get the answering machine. That way I could say that I called, but I wouldn’t actually have to talk to the person. Why? Sometimes you just don’t want to have the conversation. Maybe I’ve put off talking to them for too long or I don’t think they really want to hear from me or I just don’t really want to talk to them. But I need to, I’m supposed to and I make the call. But it’s so nice when you can just leave a message.

So I get it. You put it off all week and squeezed it in on a Friday afternoon. Or you waited till late in the afternoon on Christmas Eve to call and ask when services were. Or you were in a hurry and didn’t even identify yourself so I don’t even know who called.

Call me back, OK?