“You walk too fast,” was the comment a woman recently told a pastor. Confused by the comment, the pastor quickly asked what she meant. Again, she said, “You walk too fast.” The pastor still seemed confused, and the woman finally explained, “Sometimes you don’t seem to acknowledge the people you pass in the halls. You never greet people, and you always seem like you’re in a hurry. In other words, you walk too fast.” Ouch.
As a ministry leader, it’s a good question we should all ask ourselves. Do I walk too fast? Am I in such a hurry to get to my next appointment or my next assignment that I “step” over the people who might need a little encouragement or even a simple greeting? Am I in such a hurry that I am blind to the needs of people I walk by?
I’m not sure Jesus had the same approach. Whether He was calling out disciples from a fishing boat, meeting a woman at the well, or healing a leper, we never see Him rushed or in a hurry to get past the people who needed Him. Jesus somehow knew the importance of lingering, asking questions, and caring for those in need. We can all learn this principle, yet, all too often, leaders get hyper-focused on projects instead of people. If this sounds like you, here are three ways you can “walk a little slower.”
First, walk a little slower. Literally. Allow a few extra minutes in the hallway at church to make small talk and get past the initial “How are you?” question. Show up for Bible study a little early so all the details are done. This will give you some margin for conversations. I once told my husband that more people will remember him because he knew how to engage in conversations while I often get distracted by superfluous details.
Second, ask intentional questions and listen. This takes some effort on your part because you need to know the women in your ministry beyond pleasant exchanges of greeting. Do you know the names of family members? Do you know if they are going through a crisis? Ask questions that begin with “how,” “why,” and “what.” Take a personal interest in those you lead, and show compassion and care for their needs. Don’t interrupt them, and intentionally listen to their stories.
Third, follow up. You might need to carry a small notepad to jot down specifics or save a voice recording on your phone to help you remember prayer requests or specific needs that are voiced as you have conversations. Wait a few days after your initial conversation, and send a follow up text message or email and let them know you are following up with them. Look for tangible ways you can minister to someone or meet a need. Going the extra mile might be exactly the thing that will keep that person connected to your ministry and, more importantly, the Lord.
Walking past people in your leadership isn’t about getting extra steps toward your fitness goals, but stopping to linger and have conversations will increase your ministry effectiveness. Try walking a little slower today, and pray for gospel conversations to cross your path.
Kelly King is the Women’s Ministry Specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources and oversees the YOU Lead events. Join her this year and get to know her heart for ministry leaders. Follow her on Twitter @kellydking.