Tag Archive: perception

Church Member Perception of Ministers, part 1

Preface: This is an aspirational post about something I believe should become a reality. It’s a subject matter I’ve not mastered yet – but it’s an area in which I’m trying to improve.


“I know you’re busy, but can I have a few minutes of your time?”

If you’re a church staff-member and you’re hearing that question often, it’s a bad sign. Here’s why:

Either you are actually way too busy, or you’re non-verbally communicating something about you that is not a reality.

The first scenario if happening regularly means one of two things is happening. Either you’re not managing your time well, or you’re about to have a breakdown. Managing your time poorly leaves no margin for disruptions. Being that busy isn’t sustainable, and a physical or psychological breaking point is coming down the track.

The second scenario is probably more common for a lot of us, though. Chances are we’re not actually too busy to spare a few minutes. But we have forgotten that ministry involves people (and some of those people even pay our salary).

Somehow, we’ve begun to communicate with our body language or reputation that “I’ve got important tasks to get done which have already been determined for me by others – and your request isn’t as important.”

While it’s important to be aware of this all the time, I think it is particular important to be aware of it on Sunday mornings, or whenever church services occur. Those times provide congregants a few hours to connect with their ministers – and it’s important that we communicate a mindset of ministry, rather than busyness.

This “I’m too busy” perception is further fed by the way we respond to people’s questions. For example, if someone asks “How are you doing?” and we reply with a long list of things we’ve been working on or still need to finish, it communicates that we have nothing extra to give to that person.  We’re likely trying to manage our busyness-image.

I think there’s something sinful about that. I’ve done it before, and I’ve confessed it. It’s something that I’m working on right now in my life, and I’d encourage you to do an audit of how you respond to people – especially when they interrupt you or your plans.

Practical takeaways:

  1. If you’re too busy on a consistent basis to not have a few extra minutes to spare, make some life changes. It’s neither healthy nor sustainable to function with no margin in your life.
  2. Don’t respond to “How are you doing” questions with a self-promotional list of things you’ve done or still have to accomplish.
  3. Create margin for yourself on Sundays and another times you interact with people, to be available for unplanned conversations. Unrushed conversations in the church hallways can be a great ministry. Chatting it up in the hallway isn’t a waste of time – it’s a ministry of presence.
  4. When you ask someone how they’re doing, and they reply with how busy they are that week, consider saying something like this: “Well, I have a few minutes right now. Would you mind me praying over you? I’d like to ask God to help give you peace in this busy time.”

I’m not proposing that you chase rabbits, become a counselor in the church hallway, or give away all your time. But an unrushed conversation with an appropriate ending, which may or may not involve future action on your part, should be the norm rather than the exception.

Busyness is not a badge of honor, and it’s usually not as honoring to God as we might think it is. In contrast, being available to others is honoring to God.

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