On Combatting Aloofness and Asking God for the Grace to See
I’ve been called aloof a few times over the almost two decades that I’ve been a pastor’s wife. Those who know me well don’t perceive me this way, but it’s a label I’ve earned more than once and I believe there is some truth to it.
Like all church leaders—deacons, elders, lay leaders, door holders, anyone who has a role during corporate worship—as a pastor’s wife my worship experience each Sunday is jam packed. Just this past weekend I ran into the sanctuary at the last minute with all the pieces of the Advent wreath, which were forgotten at home. Then I hustled off to the kids’ ministry. Finally I hurried back after Communion in hopes of greeting as many attendees as I could. It was a typical Sunday and I honestly enjoy each role (this is not a lament of the busyness of ministry).
There is a hazard in the busyness that church leaders experience each Sunday: we can appear aloof to attendees.
As I’m sprinting hither and yon on Sunday mornings, quickly chirping out greetings over my shoulders as I breeze by, others can easily (and maybe rightfully) perceive me to be uncaring, unconcerned, and unwelcoming. When I don’t pause and take a moment to thoughtfully consider the person before me, I risk hurting their feelings.
While the Advent wreath and kids’ lesson and greeting multiple people are indeed important, so is slowing down, making eye contact, and expressing genuine care for whomever the Lord brings through the doors.
Because here’s what’s true whether we want to believe it or not: anyone in a leadership role on Sunday morning represents not only themselves, but also the church, and even the Lord himself. If I am rushing around taking care of details (even the very important ones!) so much that I miss the people before me, I may communicate that not only am I too busy and too important to chat, but so are the other leaders in the church, and so is God himself.
The reality is, as church leaders, we are indeed “ambassadors for Christ” and God is in fact “making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20). The way we treat those who walk through the church doors is a representation of ourselves, our church, and our God.
My plea to you and me is that we would have eyes to see—really see—those who attend church with us this Advent season. Yes, the details are important. And no, you and I are not responsible for the hearts of all who visit—only God can work there. But I know that I want to do better.
May God give you and me the grace to see and genuine empathy to extend warmth and welcome to all who enter.