Who Left On the Lights?
By: Alistair Brown
George Bullard writes about visiting with a pastor who superbly dealt with a senior in his church who was upset the lights had been left on in the sanctuary. The pastor was gentle, carefully diffused the senior’s annoyance, and avoided getting hooked into an emotional response to the complaint.The event became, for George, an insight into how that pastor had gradually helped the seniors in the church let go of their focus on small things and fall in love with Jesus again. The story is well worth reading.
My only regret about George’s article is that I didn’t read it thirty years ago. The only comment I would add is that it’s not only seniors who become preoccupied with whether the rest rooms are left tidy, doors are locked at the right time, or who authorized that color when the walls in the church hall were painted. Almost everyone has their favorite subjects that rouse their interest and rile their mood.
Pastors are not exempt.
I spent hours one day going from store to store to find the right kind of light fittings for a fellowship room. For months during a building program, whenever I visited another church building or was in a school hall, I’d turn the chairs upside down to see if the seat was screwed or riveted to the legs. (My wife, Alison, was most embarrassed.) Years later I got agitated because our church building had a security system but people had left fingerprints on the keypad which might reveal the security code to an intruder.
What worries me now is how important each of those (and too many more) seemed at the time. Also, how emotionally involved I became. And how little I trusted others to sort out these things. Most worrying of all was how I allowed them to take me away from what I was called and gifted to do as pastor of that church.
I don’t think I am the only sinner. But I realize I am no less a sinner than all those who get preoccupied with small things and need to refocus on their love for Jesus and their calling to serve him in his mission to this world.