Saturday, November 30, 2013

Telephone Etiquette For Pastors

Does God give a man a pass so that he has a right to be intrusive or inconvenient to others just because he is a preacher of the gospel? I have been around enough pastors to know that most pastors recognize the importance of etiquette when communicating with others on the telephone, to show courtesy and respect. Yet there are some in the gospel ministry who seem to think, as evidenced by their conduct, that the accepted social rules of courtesy and kindness apply to everyone else but them.

By what right does a pastor routinely interrupt a church member’s work day just so he doesn’t have to write his questions down to obtain answers at a more appropriate time, when he is not robbing from his church member’s employer? By what right does a pastor make contact with another gospel preacher about a matter that is not terribly important, but is sure to trouble or distress the preacher who is being called, shortly before the man is scheduled to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ? One would think that as a pastor would not want to be disturbed himself before he preached, he would recognize the impropriety of doing precisely that to a colleague.

Twice in Solomon’s Proverbs we are reminded that before honor is humility. Granting that every human being desires to be honored, it is well-established in Scripture that the path to being honored leads through the field of personal humility. Therefore, as the Savior came not to be served but to serve, so it seems to me that every opportunity the man of God has to serve others is a God-given opportunity that should not be passed up if at all possible. A practical way of doing this when placing a telephone call is to ask a very simple question of the person you desire to speak to on the telephone: “Is this a convenient time to talk for a few minutes?” “Is this an appropriate time to speak to you about something that might be disturbing?”

Each is a very simple question. Each takes only moments to ask. Each ascertains in a matter of seconds if it is convenient for the other person to speak to you for a few minutes. Busy professionals who speak to other busy professionals routinely ask this type of question when the telephone call that is placed is unscheduled. Could it possibly be that pastors who do not ask such a question when placing unscheduled phone calls, or who will not ask such a question when placing unscheduled phone calls, see their church members as subordinates? If that is the case, it is sad. Such is not the kind of servant leadership that is portrayed in God’s Word. Could also possibly be that pastors do not ask such questions of other gospel ministers see them as somehow less important, and therefore less deserving of the respect that is due all men?

It is a small man who treats service personnel, such as attendants, valet staff, and those who work in restaurants roughly and rudely. A minister of the gospel is almost as small who presumes upon others when their duties and occupations demand their attention. Of course, some gospel ministers will disagree with me. However, those who do not hold to the ivory tower view of church pastors can surely be expected to agree with me on this one.