It looks like he is all by himself. He’s probably lonely. No one’s with him. You won’t be interrupting anyone else’s time with the minister. Perhaps you can encourage him. He obviously has time for a brief chat with you. You love that your minister always makes time for you. He makes you feel special and important. You’d like him to know how special and important he is to you. Drop in unexpectedly and chat for a bit…
…Or make an appointment.
Make it a date. Put it on your calendar. Set a reminder on your phone. Block out a space in your schedule. These are powerful ways to communicate appreciation and value to people; to let them know that you look forward to time spent with them. It doesn’t have to be a big surprise to brighten someone’s day. It’s really sweet that you want to be an unexpected blessing, a joyful serendipity, a bright spot in someone’s day. But consider being a source of intentional blessing, intentional joy, intentional light. If you schedule an appointment, anticipation can brighten every moment from now until the appointed time.
Make an appointment.
It tells your minister that he is more than just a passing thought as you’re passing the building. It tells him that you have planned and looking forward to the opportunity and privilege of meeting with him. Instead of being a fleeting spontaneous joy, why not be a joy he can look forward to? Granted this requires building a reputation as a blessing. He may take some convincing that you are not coming for coercion, crisis or complaint. You may have to convince yourself what your purpose for visiting is as well. If you decide that your purpose is simply to let him know that he means a lot to you, then let him know by giving him scheduled time rather than tossing him the “down time” or “filler space” in your schedule. It also lets him know how much of your time you intend to give and how much of his time you require.
Make an appointment.
Whether it’s intended or not, the perception often given by “just dropping in” is that visiting with the minister is little more than an acceptable alternative to being bored when you have a little time to kill. At times, I’ve even heard that sentiment unveiled with an air of humor or with an attempt to spiritualize it- “Well, I was just passing by and had a little time so I thought I’d…” or, “the Lord just really put you on my heart as I was passing by and….” Admittedly, God does sometimes orchestrate these kinds of spontaneous and serendipitous visits to bring about beautiful and important moments. But, kind of like the elusive idea of “quality time” with your kids, we more often reap benefits from intentionality than accident.
So make an appointment.
You don’t want to interrupt. You’re very careful to make sure he’s not with anyone. He’s not on the phone. You are even aware enough to make sure he’s not on his knees with his head bowed. Look again. He may be having a conversation you didn’t see. Look around the room again. That open Bible on his desk is the very voice of God that may have been speaking to him when you interrupted. That open messenger app isn’t him goofing around when he should be working. He was delivering encouragement to someone he can’t be physically present with right now but who is feeling desperately alone and discouraged. See that open document on his laptop? That is likely the start of a sermon outline scheduled to be delivered on Sunday to hundreds of people. Or perhaps it is a bulletin article or a class lesson or the schedule for the retreat he’s trying to get organized or a chapter in the devotional book he’s been trying to write. Because he is called to speak to both individuals and groups, your minister carefully plans and prepares for these conversations well in advance of them, often imagining possible questions and outcomes in his head long before the scheduled speaking begins. You may not see the large group conversation he is pre-visualizing in his head.
So make an appointment.
Your minister may not tell you all of this. Your minister loves you. He cares about your feelings. So do I. Neither of us want you to get the impression that God or the church won’t be available for you at the drop of a hat whenever you really need them. You are valuable to and we will drop everything for you if you truly need us. We both worry that, by telling you this, you might ignore the genuine prompting of God’s Holy Spirit the next time He urges you to meet with a wise minister immediately. Nevertheless, your minister’s time is valuable and he is trying to be a good steward of it balancing time for one on one, large group conversations, conversations with God, and time with his own family. If your minister is valuable and important to you, let him know by valuing his time enough to plan and schedule a set amount of intentional time with him. If you really want him to be happily surprised by your visit, try speaking only uplifting words of encouragement about him and others during your time together. You will likely see visible joy and surprise, and maybe even relief, written across his face. And in the future, whenever he writes or reads your name on his appointment calendar, he will smile in anticipation.