God entrusts one hundred and sixty-eight hours to me every week. During most of them I make myself available to people in my congregation. I’m not working all those hours, but I’m around and available—except for three hours, hours that I spend exclusively with Shirley.

For those hours we need to get away from church people and church problems. Shirley is one of those church people, too. Her problem is that she sees very little of her husband. We need those three hours to ourselves.

Call me any other time. I’m the Lord’s servant. I love being a minister and a pastor. I complain a little now and then, especially about the jangling telephone. But no matter how tired I feel, or how pushed the day has been, there’s something about the ringing of the phone—it starts the adrenalin flowing, the muscles tensing up, and I’m ready for a new adventure. Nothing stimulates me mentally and physically like the telephone. Shirley has commented that even in the middle of the night my hand clasps the phone before the second ring and I’m wide awake. Call me anytime—except Friday evening.

It started when our children were small. I set up monthly dinner dates with each child. He or she chose the place, and for at least an hour the two of us talked. I learned a lot about my children on those once-a-month outings.

One day I suggested a weekly date with their mother. The kids loved the idea. They teased us but encouraged us.

One Friday we visited a member of our church who had come home from the hospital that day. She had asked us to come. We arrived at about six and left thirty minutes later. “I’m taking Shirley to a concert,” I explained.

Mary was disgruntled. “Why, what does he think we pay him for? I needed him that night. He could go out with his ...

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