There's always the polite "how are you?" that all Aussies ask but many people at church have the wonderful ability to cut through the polite and get to the real stuff. It can be the start of great, genuine conversations that make people feel welcome, cared for and loved. Unfortunately while I've often heard clergy asking this question, I rarely heard it being asked in return.
Maybe there are difficult barriers to overcome when asking the person behind the collar how they really are? Or perhaps clergy find it difficult to share how they are without fear of it being shared with the rest of the community? Each situation is unique but finding the time and place to ask is one of the most rewarding and caring acts clergy families have reported experiencing.
I've read a few hundred articles and stories about clergy family life and two big themes constantly come up for clergy, clergy spouses and PKs:
- "I wish people would ask how I really am and understand that sometimes I can't give a complete answer, but I'm grateful they took the time to ask."
- "I wish people would take the time to get to know the REAL me, not just the 'Sunday Me'."
Maybe people forget that the person being paid to do ministry is still a real person, with a real passion for ministry, but also with real struggles, joys and hardships. I recently heard a very wise psychologist say: "I get paid for my time, but you can't pay for my care." Is it perhaps the same for clergy workers and their families?
So this Sunday, or perhaps during the week, if you happen across your minister or their family member with a bit of spare time, try making them a hot drink and asking them how they really are, or what their hobbies are. See if you can find something in common with them apart from ministry - they will definitely be grateful for it.