It's Okay To Be Unavailable

Becoming Too Available

Many people believe that the quote, "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds," is the motto of the United States Postal Service. Actually, the U. S. P. S. has no official motto.

Our famous quote was used about 2,500 years ago by the Greek historian, Herodotus. He said this during the war between the Greeks and Persians. The statement was in reference to the Persian mounted postal couriers whom he observed and held in high regard. So now if you are ever a contestant on the quiz show, Jeopardy, you can thank me for giving you the correct answer to this otherwise obscure question.

I have always loved this famous quote and I believe ministers should also be able to stake at least partial claim this noble passage. Being a pastor gave me the opportunity to serve my congregation 24/7, day and night, good weather and bad. When people were in spiritual need, I always made sure I was available for them. Being a minister is a job I love doing and I have always taken it very seriously.

However, I do recall a time when I was perhaps a little to available for one of our church officers.

Vicki was the church treasurer and did a wonderful job at what is often a thankless position within the church. One morning she called me and needed some information concerning a payroll situation.

"Are you busy, Pastor Ray?"

"Actually, I was in the shower when you called, but I am always available to my favorite treasurer. How may I help you, Vicki?"

After a long silence, I finally said, "Don't worry I can finish taking my shower after our conversation. Really, what can I do for you?"

After another long pause, Vicki finally spoke, "Pastor Ray, you don't understand, I just had a mental picture of you in the shower and I'm afraid I'm unable to speak with you right now. Would it be okay if we talked a little later?"

This time it was my turn for the long silence. Understanding that anything I said would be either embarrassing or inappropriate, I concluded our conversation with, "Vicki, I'll call you back in a couple hours."

Vicki and I did finish our conversation later in the afternoon. Neither of us mentioned the shower... ever again.

But no matter how much I admire the quotation of Herodotus, I understand that occasionally there are times when you need to become unavailable to those people you serve. Now when I'm in the shower and the telephone rings, I just let the answering machine take care of it.

Written in 2010 by Rev. Raymond C. Nolan
Rev. Raymond C. Nolan has served as a minister for over 30 years and is presently the Assistant Pastor at Daybreak United Methodist Church in Miflin, Alabama. His positive outlook on life serves as an inspiration to all who know him.

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Enjoy some of Ray's other writings too:

Bernie and Me

The Birthday Cake Rematch

Rank Does Have Its Privileges

Blessings In Disguise

Does God Have A Sense Of Humor?

Changing Seasons

Missing The Obvious

We're Never Too Old To Teach

Out Of The Mouths Of Babes