In my early days of pastoral ministry, I met two of the “big” pastors in my city at a local event for pastor types. By big, I mean they led the two largest churches in the city and county, each one preaching to over 1,500 on any given Sunday. Considering I was usually preaching to about 50, that was huge.
I came home feeling intimidated. I wondered what it would be like to be them. You know, studs. Ha!
No really, what I wanted to do was get close to them and see what I could learn from them. They were each 10-15 years ahead of me in ministry experience, and I truly believed they had some lessons and advice from which I could benefit. I’m talking about stuff you can’t learn in seminary (important, but not all there is to learn). But seriously, I assumed they were too “big” to have time for me.
I spoke this last question out loud to my wife, and she suggested a rather startling and simple idea. “What if you just ask?!”
“Well,” I thought, “That’d be too simple!” Actually, it scared me. Really. What if…
So, I called the first pastor’s office and the phone receptionist relayed me to his private secretary. I told her my name, knowing she wouldn’t know me, and asked if I could somehow schedule a 30-minute meeting on Pastor Mike’s calendar sometime in the future. She asked if she could put me on hold, I said yes, and I began to hear music from one of the church’s worship albums. Less than a minute later, someone came on the line, but it wasn’t the pastor’s secretary. It was the pastor! The big guy!
“Joe, this is Mike. How about we meet for lunch?” He said.
“Well, sure!” I said, with a voice embarrassingly filled with too much shock and enthusiasm. I took a breath and much more calmly asked, “What does your calendar look like in the next couple of weeks?” Immediately, I wished I had said months rather than weeks.
“I mean today. In about an hour,” Mike said. “Do you know where my office is?”
I looked at my watch. It was 10:30 a.m. And, yessir, everyone in our line of work knows where your office is. I said this to myself, of course.
I had called from my church office, but somewhere I could hear my wife chuckling in the background. “What if you just ask?!” Ha.
So, I went to lunch with “Big” Pastor Mike. A lunch that spilled over into mid-afternoon that day and over into the next 10 years many more times after that. That first lunch inspired me to call the other pastor, Barry, and he too, was wide open for years worth of visits and mentoring sessions. All it took was asking. Imagine that!
What I learned is that these two guys were just as hungry as I was for this kind of relationship, though, perhaps for a different side of the giving/receiving. I discovered they were more like “big” brothers than “big” pastors.
So, do you have a big brother pastor with whom you could start and build a relationship? You’d have a lot to gain from it, and so would he. What if you just ask?!