Mondays are typically my day of rest and reflection. It doesn’t always happen this way, such is the life of a pastor, and yesterday was no exception. For a day off, I was quite busy.
Part of my Monday included going to the community’s monthly Lion’s Club meeting. My wife and I attend on a regular basis as a way of being a part of the larger community. Typically, I will walk to the meeting and she will meet me there from work.
As I was walking to the meeting, I noticed three young girls who were playing on the sidewalk. We said hello to each other and the older of the girls asked me, “Are you going to church?” I guess I am sort of known as the “Methodist Pastor” in town even if the girls are not members of my congregation.
I said, “No, Mondays are meeting days, so I’m headed to a meeting.” That may not seem like a bad thing to say. It was a Monday and I do, occasionally, have meetings on Mondays. I was polite in my answer and I wished them, later, a great night. However, I was not happy with what I said. Before I made five steps, I realized a missed opportunity in that brief five second interaction.
First, I perhaps indicated that meetings are a bad thing. My hurried tone suggested to them that I was going somewhere I didn’t want to go, and that there were other things I would rather be doing. That is not a message I want to express to anyone.
Second, I denied my own belief that worship happens all the time. This is where I was really hurt with what I said. I firmly believe, and proclaim each week in worship, that church happens all the time. That worship of God is a daily activity. I wish I had said something like, “Church happens all the time, whether it is in the building or somewhere else.” What my words said was that “church” only happens on Sunday morning, it begins at 10 a.m., and lasts for one hour.
Now, I am not one that believes I must have the right word for every moment for every situation. That would be impossible. We all struggle, at times, with finding the right words to say in a given moment.
What yesterday’s interaction reminded me was the value and choice of our words. Even an old writer needs this reminder. In our technological culture, we can lose the meaning that words have, both in their real and conveyed sense. We can become so focused on the image or the lights that we forget the message we are saying or implying.
Words can uplift. Words can inspire. And, words can also create unintended separations and meanings that goes against what you really want to say.
In all things, we must be careful about the words we use and be mindful of the opportunities that come our way.
I hope I get another change to do better in this area. I am sure I will. But, I hope that I will be more careful of the words that I say.