HOW TO BE CLOSE
by Dr. Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Chapter 32 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Blue Denim and Lace)
Tragic but true is the fact that many people live and die and never have close relationships. This is especially true in the life of many pastors. Many grope in darkness hoping to find a close relationship with another and yet never develop the kind of ties for which their dreams have drawn plans.
One of the surest and best way to develop close ties is to enter into all the relationships of another's life. Though this is perhaps exaggerated a bit, it is none the less true. Many pastors, for example, do not laugh with their people; they only mourn with their people. In so doing they become only a part of the lives of their parishioners. They are only considered or thought about when mourning comes. On the other hand, a comedian only entertains. When one has a party, he invites him. When one wants to laugh, he seeks his company, but in all other areas of life, he is omitted. Hence, one should not confine himself to one area in the life of a friend. Through many years of pastoring, I have tried to laugh with my people, weep with my people, rejoice with my people, and enter into every area of their lives. I want to share with them times of humor, and I want to share with them times of sorrow. When one can entwine himself into every area of another's life, he can become "close" to the other and endear himself as a friend.
The more types of experiences that people can share, the more possibilities there are for times spent in the future. If, as a pastor, I can be a teacher, a comforter, an encouragement, a delight, a strength, etc., then my people can and will associate me with each of these areas of life. The more areas of their lives with which I can become associated, the more needed will I be, the more intimate I can be, and the deeper is the friendship we can develop.
It is vitally important also that we realize that we share these experiences together while they are happening. It is important that I, as a pastor, realize that there are people in my congregation with whom I have shared the joys of a wedding, the sorrows of a funeral, the anxieties of an illness, the blessings of a conversion, the thrill of the coming of a new baby, etc. Many share such experiences but miss the blessing and the close ties because they fail to realize the privileges shared while the experiences are taking place.
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“I am an old-fashioned preacher of the old-time religion,
warmed this cold world's heart for two thousand years.” —Billy SUNDAY