One of the perks of my job (or should I say jobs?) is that, from time to time, I get the opportunity to meet new folks.
I meet people who just want to tell me they read "The Shepherd's Heart" on a regular basis. I usually just thank them and wait to see if they are going to elaborate. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't -- and that is more than OK with me. Frankly, I'm just glad folks are still reading it after nearly 18 years.
As a minister, I get to meet folks who attend the church for the first time. I also meet people who need prayer and someone has recommended our church. When new ministers come to town, I usually meet them first at the regular monthly meeting of the Marshall Ministerial Alliance. And when I was serving in the role of Hospice Chaplain, I was blessed to be able to meet patients who were looking at the end of their lives and maybe just needed an ear -- someone to listen. I also had the pleasure of meeting their families and trying to comfort them as the transition from this life to the next grew nearer and nearer.
Most recently, I've had the pleasure of sharing the mission and vision of the agency I work for with people all across Missouri. No matter where I go or what group or person I speak to, folks are very receptive to what I have to say. In fact, at times I feel like I've known many of them for years after just meeting them for the first time.
One thing I've learned about most folks -- especially the elderly -- is that even though they want to hear what I have to say, they also want to be heard. They need someone to listen to them; someone to share their thoughts with; someone with which to share the wealth of knowledge they've gathered through the years. Even the collection of gentlemen I have coffee with once a week or so has much to teach (even some things I might not need to know) if I just remember to listen.
And I can't begin to tell you how much I've learned by visiting with people, closing my mouth, and opening my ears.
Try it sometime ... I'm sure you'll be blessed.