Presence

Written by cycleguy on August 15th, 2018

I’m going to be honest…I have no idea where I am going to go with this post. I think you will see why. I do have a point but getting there might be like “going ’round Robin Hood’s barn” as we used to say (back in them old days). 🙂

I’ve been reading Skye Jethani’s book Immeasurable about the soul of Church, Inc. I’ve written two other posts which have flowed out of it. You can read them here and here. But something I read just today really stuck with me and I don’t know what the solution is. Let me explain.

When I was a young pastor I was told visit, visit, visit. I often found myself out every afternoon and many evenings visiting with people from the church. So much so I often neglected my office time and even my family (at night especially).  It wasn’t unusual to be driving by someone’s house and saying, “Oh, I haven’t seen them in a while. I’ll swing in for a few moments.” So I would…whether the spouse was there or not. But as Bob Dylan sang so eloquently: “the times they are a changin’.”  It was no longer kosher (translated: acceptable or safe) to just drop by to see someone, especially if they were a member of the opposite sex. So I found myself tied more and more to my office. Studying. Napping. Reading. Napping. “Counseling” (Can an untrained pastor really do this? But that’s another topic for another time). But even the latter had to be done a certain way. Ryan and I have set a policy that we will not be in the church building; at a meal; in a car; or any setting with a female who is not our wife without someone else in the building or with us.

Then I read this in Skye’s book: “The antidote to popularity-based authority is the quiet power of pastoral presence.” (p.138)  His point in the chapter is many people will listen to someone who is popular (i.e. TV/radio hucksters and some legitimate speakers) before they will listen to their own pastor. It is called platform. And their platform is bigger than most local pastors. Definitely mine. But that raises a huge question: how do I/any pastor do the pastoral presence thing and still be cognizant of the moral perception of others?

What do you think?

 

9 Comments so far ↓

  1. Betty Draper says:

    Age old problem for pastor, leaders, everyone thinks they have some extra touch with God that the non pastor cannot meet. Those who are groupies you do no want coming to you. I have counseled too many women who sit in the pew beside their husbands and in their head they are playing out a story with their pastor. I have seen and worked with too many who have fallen by the way side, good preachers but ignored a policy such as you have. Most churches have one but so many think they so spiritual they will not fall…they fall even before they fall with that kind of thinking. Plus they are just not being honest with themselves. Believing we are the answer to everyone problems no matter the set up is being blind and blind people fall into traps all the time. If a women comes to you for help and you say, let me get my wife in here before we talk. And if she says, I don’t want anyone else but you to hear this, she is probably not really wanting help, she is wanting attention from someone she has on a pedestal. A Pastor who stands on solid principals will be protected by those principals.
    I commend you brother and Ryan too for your policy. We help people the best when we keep things real.

    • cycleguy says:

      Thank you Betty for your VERY WISE words. i cringe when I look back and think how I once saw myself as bullet-proof. I think, “How could I have been so arrogant?” Protected by principles is a good way to put it.

  2. Lisa notes says:

    I don’t have any answers. But I love the questions you’re asking, Bill. It’s definitely a modern issue that we have such access to preaching all over the world. Yet we still need presence as much as ever.

    • cycleguy says:

      Thanks Lisa. Having access has been both a bane and a blessing. it definitely changes the platform of someone. And as is my way: I will continue to ask questions until maybe I can find an answer. 🙂 Thanks for the comment Lisa.

  3. cycleguy says:

    From Gail: Personally, I would stick with yours and Ryan current plan.

  4. I’m with Gail here, Bill. We live in absurdly litigious times, and it only takes one wrong interpretation on the part of someone else to land us in hot water. Sad it has come to this . . .
    Blessings!

  5. floyd samons says:

    I think your safe in that God made it so that one on one person to person, flesh to flesh, can’t be duplicated by technology. If it does it’s temporary.

    And I too think you’re set up sound policies to protect all who come through the doors.