I once worked with a pastor who had a problem with one to one meetings.
He could preach like a machine in the pulpit, but his people skills . . . lacked.
Available Doesn’t Mean Accessible
It’s hard for church leadership not to be available.
At the same time, because you’re looking someone in the face and speaking to him, does that mean he’s actually accessible?
Accessibility means that there is a connection that occurs; not having another person’s attention means they are not accessible.
The connection with church members and the community means that attention is given to each person in the encounter.
Accessibility and Attention
There are times when its really difficult to give the necessary attention to the person in front of you . . .
. . . When you have more issues more important to you to deal with.
. . . When you find the person talking to you to be rude, angry or pessimistic.
. . . When you are tired.
Being Accessible Means . . .
. . . taking care of yourself. Spiritual health is an obvious place of care for self. Without being connected to the One who has called you to serve, there are possibilities of self-centeredness or lack of care for those who need attention.
Taking care of yourself physically is necessary for the energy to focus. When run down and out of shape physically the ability to think clearly and make good decisions is increasingly difficult.
There are far too many accounts of ministers who don’t care for the relational dynamic of their lives and open themselves to inappropriate relationships and activities. Invest in marriage and family so these kinds of problems are avoided.
. . . setting healthy boundaries. Being clear within yourself about what is and isn’t acceptable, then clearly explaining that to those you encounter as situations arise — without apology — eliminates problems and opens the door for healthy encounters where ministry is most beneficial. Don’t forget the boundaries to give yourself time for family and self-care.
. . . sometimes reminding yourself that what’s not important to you may be very important to the person you’re facing. Someone else’s problems may seem trivial, trite or even silly and unnecessary to you. A five year old’s broken toy isn’t the end of life for you, but it is important to the 5 year old. An adult’s frustration with a 14 year old’s lack of communication may be normal to you, but harrowing for the parent facing that situation for the first time.
. . . the self-discipline to pay attention to the person who has requested your help. It really is difficult not to be distracted by the activity of life around you when listening to someone’s problems. Even in a quiet room, keeping your mind on details you’ve heard several times can be very difficult to do. Work at paying attention to the person you’re ministering to and their feelings.
Being Accessible May Be Difficult and Blurry
Filtering the important from the waste of time, not being distracted, enjoying self, marriage and/or family is setting appropriate boundaries, being available when it’s for ministry to an individual, family, group . . . it’s a difficult balance to maintain.
Don’t sell yourself short by dropping your guard. Get help yourself when the balancing act becomes overwhelming.