Faith Matters

Unexpected revelation

My conversation partner may have been a prophet—or a quack. My job was simply to listen.

I’m a last resort. People talk to their pastor—fair enough, it’s what pastors are there for. The pastor, it seems, feels a bit daunted; doesn’t have time, fears there may be mental health issues, prevaricates, suggests books to read, eventually finds someone with wider responsibility to handle it. That weightier person looks over their spectacles, feels equally nervous, and scratches around for someone to pass this person on to.

Me, it turns out. It’s the result of being a dual-vocation pastor and theologian and being on the radio a lot. So I get a plaintive email saying, “I know you’re busy . . . you were recommended . . . no one seems to know what to do with me.” It’s not your everyday message. This person’s clearly got staying power.

Zoom was invented for those too nervous to make a first pastoral contact in person. You have to yield your email address, but otherwise you can size each other up without too much trepidation. You can also listen. So I listened to this person to whom it seemed no one had listened for a very long time.