There is a remarkable article in Christianity Today by Mark Galli titled, “Why We Need More ‘Chaplains’ and Fewer Leaders.” Basically, Galli is saying that the church, generally, has assimilated the business world’s definition of successful entrepreneurial leadership at the expense of servant pastors—also known as chaplain pastors—who focus on healing hurting souls. Galli mentions unhurried conversations as a gift that chaplain pastors use to bless and heal the hurts of others. Oh how right he is! Pastors with the gift of unhurried conversation can get overlooked in the rush of church activities. They don’t get much glory, and they don’t seem to need it, either.
Here’s the thing. If I had written the Bible, I would have included the gift of unhurried conversation with the other spiritual gifts. Yes, I know it is probably ancillary to one of the “actual” spiritual gifts. I’m being facetious, sort of. In all seriousness, I believe the gift of unhurried conversation is not limited to the clergy. We can all bless each other with this most precious gift. It just takes a little mental practice. We have to be “intentional” (church parlance for making ourselves do it). Practice not thinking ahead to the next task or duty when talking to someone, especially when talking to someone who is hurting. By not thinking ahead, and existing in the moment, it’s easier to have an unhurried conversation. An unhurried conversation, oddly enough, can be short. It’s not so much about the length of the conversation as it is about being unrushed and completely engaged with the person you are talking with. Resist the urge to look over the person’s shoulder at others you need to speak with. Don’t glance at your watch and for heaven’s sake don’t look at the messages in that abominable cell phone while trying to practice unhurried conversation.
Most of us in the pew won’t become the next great mega-church pastor, evangelist, missionary or the prior of a pious hermitage (my personal favorite), but we can bless people with the ministration of unhurried conversation. Unhurried conversations will become more precious as the pace of life intensifies, forcing us into dimensions of shallowness and loneliness we’ve never experienced before. Thank God for this precious antidote and the people who wield it.