I just moved into my new office at the church I'll be serving as senior pastor this next year (and hopefully many years to come). Although I'm understandably a bit nervous about starting with a new congregation, I cannot wait to see what God has in store for my family, the church, and me. I officially start on July 1st, so please be praying!
A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to talk to the outgoing pastor about transitional matters. He gave me a lot of great pointers, filled me in on the particulars of the congregation, reviewed the budget with me, and summarized the administrative structure and various ministries of the church. I am impressed by the great work he did and the positive changes he led. He is obviously a great administrator who has a heart for spreading the gospel. I am fortunate to be following him in ministry.
One of the practical things he told me, though, was that the pastor's office is next to the gym, and when the church preschool is active (which is every day of the work week), the children generate quite a bit of noise, making it hard to concentrate on sermon preparation, emails, reading, etc. Having five children of my own--ages 13 to 3--I thought to myself, "It can't be that bad." Well, the last couple of days have proven me wrong. They are indeed loud! The sound that comes from the gym during recess time is something akin to the combination of a professional baseball game, lowing cattle, and a train. Sound insane? It is!
On my first day in the office, I had just moved in some boxes and was in the process of hanging some things on the wall. While my back was turned to the open office door, I heard the approaching footsteps of a child. When I turned around, I saw a ball rolling in my office, followed immediately by a diminutive, blond-haired three-year-old. I said, "Hey, buddy!" to which he quickly grabbed the ball and left without a word. A few seconds later, I heard him telling some other kids that there was "a man in that room." Three little heads then peaked around the corner of my door jamb. When they noticed that I saw them, they darted off giggling and chattering to one another. It was cute, but I have to admit, I thought to myself, "This is going to be an interesting office environment."
Naturally, I have considered the option of closing my office door during recess. I am an open-door kind of guy, but sometimes necessity rears its head...right? Well, maybe, but it occurs to me that there is something much more important that my auditory comfort: relationship. As a pastor and someone who is concerned with the eternal well-being and spiritual growth of people, how does isolating myself affect my ability to address these concerns? A closed door closes me out, closes off opportunities, and, worse yet, can communicate a closed heart. A closed door is a barrier between me and the potential ministry outside of my office. A closed door, in my estimation, is a selfish obstacle to servanthood.
So, I've decided to leave the door open. And I've even started going out during recess time and talking to the kids. I plan to keep this up. Sure, it'll make writing sermons a little harder. But it'll make fostering relationship with the kids and their teachers much easier...and isn't that the point of ministry?