Each Thursday, I write a post that is designed with church leaders in mind. Many of these Thursday posts, however, are applicable to those who are not church leaders. Church leaders and lay people both may find today’s post useful.
During July, I sat in a restaurant with a wonderful man in his 80s. He is a former college professor, administrator, and minister. He continues to think, grow, and make a difference. I asked him to lunch because of particular questions I had about life as well as ministry. I have always valued his wisdom from a distance. This conversation, however, would be in person and last about an hour and a half.
My friend was generous with his time, his insight, and his wisdom. After the conclusion of the lunch, I wrote several pages in my journal, carefully recording his answers to my questions. I have read through these notes several times. The conversation was one of the most valuable experiences I had in July.
One of the most important practices of my ministry has been creating the opportunities to learn from various people by simply asking questions. I will ask someone to coffee or lunch and then ask questions about life, ministry, or leadership. I have learned so much from these conversations.
I continue to seek out people whom I can learn from. Let me encourage you to do the same.
A few suggestions:
1. Look for someone who seems to be a person from whom you could learn. What is the quality of this person’s life, ministry, or thinking that would cause you to want to learn from him/her?
2. Ask a person for some time to visit over coffee or lunch. Attempt to make location especially convenient for them. (Assume that you pay for coffee, lunch, etc.)
3. Tell this person that you would like to ask some questions regarding areas such as life, ministry, leadership, etc. Explain that you are doing some thinking and would really value his/her input.
4. When you meet with this person, be prepared. Do not expect the person to come prepared with content or something to communicate to you. Take the initiative in asking questions during your time together.
5. Listen. When appropriate, follow up with questions seeking clarification. This is not the time to interrupt or launch into your own opinions about this and that. This person has graciously given you his/her time. When you listen intently, you communicate to the other person that you value and appreciate that person’s time.
Think about people whom you would really like to learn from. Make a list of people you could ask possibly. Don’t discount yourself! (That would be like thinking: “That person would never have coffee/lunch with me. He is too busy.”) You may find yourself with the opportunity to learn from someone because you simply asked.
Why not get started now?