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The Ministry of Absence

Why Henri Nouwen warned pastors about becoming "too available."
The Ministry of Absence

The phone call came in well past my normal office hours. My children were already in bed, and the house was quiet. I didn’t recognize the number, but pastors know from experience that late-night calls should almost always be taken. The voice on the other line was urgent. A distraught mother had discovered that her teenage daughter had become sexually active with her boyfriend.

“Will you come over and meet with us?” she asked. “In the morning,” I replied, “I can meet you tomorrow morning.” Dissatisfied, the mother doubled-down on her request, reiterating the severity of her daughter’s revelation and the imperativeness of my presence. “I need you to come tonight,” she pressed. “If you would still like to meet tomorrow, please give me a call,” I responded, and politely ended the call.

“Pastor, I need to meet with you.” For those of us in pastoral ministry, a week seldom passes when those words are not uttered ...

March
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