“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4:2)
I was once told by a priest that clergy should not share too much of their personal life with the congregation. In his opinion, clergy needed to keep a professional distance from parishioners in order to perform their duties effectively. He and I were friends, but I often felt he was detached not only from those to whom he ministered, but he also seemed detached from his own feelings. Deep down there was an aging man who harbored loneliness and a bit of bitterness.
As a clergy person I understand that there are certain things that are probably better kept in confidence with only a few trusted agents; however, I am pretty much an open book. It’s hard for me to keep my cards close to my chest as it were. Once when waiting in line for popcorn at the movie theater I struck up a conversation with the couple in front of me. Within 10 minutes I knew when they were married, how many children they had, what the husband did for a living, and what type of movies they liked to watch. Why were they so willing to divulge their lives to me? I shared mine with them. I’ve found that when you are an open book to others, they become an open book as well. Deep down, people really want to share their lives with others, even if they are strangers standing in line waiting for popcorn.
I’ve found that living an open and authentic life opens doors to share Christ’s love with others. When you have no secrets to hide people feel that you are trustworthy, and they are more inclined to reveal themselves to you. Where ever I find myself I look for opportunities to talk to people. It usually starts with a simple “How are you doing today?” followed by a little small talk. Not every casual greeting moves towards a deep conversation about God. But you never know when that person you reached out to may be looking for a word from the Lord. And you might just be the person that God will use to touch that person’s life. Scripture encourages us to be “instant in season and out of season.” Basically, be ready to share God’s message of love whenever and where ever we are called so to do.
You needn’t be well versed in theology and have the Catechism memorized in order to share the Lord. All you need is a loving heart that sees Christ in all people. I find people fascinating. Each person is a book ready to be opened and read, with each page offering a unique tale. The point at which you enter a person’s life is a chapter waiting to be written. You may just be the quill that God will use to compose the next story in that person’s life. The word of encouragement you speak will determine how the story line will continue in that person’s life.
Strive to become an open book. In doing so you may make a difference in someone’s life, and you may even find that someone will come along that will help you write the next chapter in your own life. †
Fr. Timothy Warren, a retired Air Force reservist and veteran educator, is the founding pastor of St. Francis (Independent Old Catholic Church), an outreach ministry located in Victorville, Calif. He is also President and Executive Officer for LifeSkills Development, a nonprofit organization that works with at-risk young adults, those on probation, and other marginalized groups. Fr. Tim serves on the High Desert Interfaith Council in Victorville. He lives in San Bernardino.