It is easy for people who do what I do to lose touch. So, recently I was asked a question by a friend: "How do you try to not to be a 'speaker' but to be a 'person?'"
That might seem offensive, but it's actually a good question. Part of the answer is that I volunteer my time to pastor my church, Grace Church. They are completely unimpressed that I am a motivational speaker living in a van down by the river.
Yet, doing what I do, I can lose touch with local church pastors—the people I am called to serve—even though I speak to them at conferences. Also, it would be easy for me to become disconnected from local church issues, even as I preach at churches now and then when I travel.
So, when I can (and am not with my wife, Donna, or one of my daughters), I am intentional about carving out time and space for personal interaction with people I wouldn't normally meet at a conference. It's important to me to serve pastors, so I make a point to pursue personal interaction.
Here's a bit how I like to do that, as I explained to my friend who asked.
In order to keep myself aware of what's going on outside of my own little bubble, sometimes when I travel, I'll tweet, "Hey, if you're not crazy or angry, you can come meet me for dinner at such and such a time." (That's technically called a "tweetup.")
If I'm in Orlando, I might have 20 people. If it's Boston, I'll have four people. But either way, I'll sit there and learn from pastors and church leaders of all kinds.
Another thing I do regularly is tweet out, "If you need prayer, encouragement, or advice, send me a direct message, and for the next two hours I will be calling people."
One night I had two hours while I was driving, so I made calls from 10 PM until midnight and just talked to people—about 15 to 20 individuals. I prayed with them, and we talked. I get to hear someone's story. They get to bounce stuff off of me. We connect spiritually. Everyone wins.
It's great; I always learn a lot.
Choose Balance in Your Ministry
A lot of times, I'm graciously given the opportunity to speak at various places, and I am thankful for these times. Lots of people can take something away from my message all at once; many seeds are spread with one big cast.
But I also want to be engaged in more personal, high-impact relationships. It means a lot to me. The night I was on the road for two hours, I spoke with someone I'll call Jeremy. He had some questions and we got to talk through some things. He said it meant a lot to him, I certainly felt the same way.
Now, I can't do that all the time, but there are times when I choose to do what I can. I get to minister and remain connected with real people at the same time.
Know Your Limitations
It's impossible to get personal when speaking at a conference with a bunch of people. It just isn't feasible. And, as I write in my Twitter bio, "Sry I can't read/reply to all msgs & DMs."
It just isn't possible, and my wife would not approve. But I can make time to be personal with a few people at a time when I can.
So, I am convinced that you must guard your time AND make space to minster to people. That's how you stay in touch.
When I do make these random connections, I sometimes make them specific. Small-church pastors often get the short end of the stick, so I might make the offer, "If your church is under 100 in attendance, DM me. I'll call small-church pastors for the next two hours." Or I may tweet, "If you're a church planter ... ."
Then there are times when I just offer the opportunity to anyone.
One time, I prayed on the phone with an African-American pastor in New York City. He was in a hospital room with his wife dying next to him. And I said, "Man, let's just pray. Put it on speaker phone. Let's pray." Then we prayed.
Later he tweeted something like, "Ed Stetzer just prayed with my wife, and gave us encouragement to make it another day." I love to do things like that and I think it makes a difference in others' lives—I know it does in mine.
These are just a few of the random things I do to pour into others while learning some things myself at the same time. I find that this randomness is good for my soul. Whether your lifestyle is like mine or not, we all have a tendency to get stuck from time to time.
We need more than our regular routine. We need to receive and give outside of our bubbles.
Do you practice random acts of impact ministry? How do you do that? How has it changed you and your interactions with others?
Ed Stetzer is the executive director of LifeWay Research. For the original article, visit edstetzer.com.
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