Ministry Inside.134

conversation and coffeeI want to suggest a way of learning that I have practiced for many years.

For the last 35 years, I have learned from a variety of people by simply asking questions. These are questions that I have thought about in advance. My goal is to glean something helpful from these individuals. What I wish to learn shapes the questions that are asked.

Typically, I will ask a person to coffee, lunch, or simply spend some time at that person’s office.  We meet for an hour or less.

Some examples:

1. I interviewed the mayors of several of the communities where we lived in order to learn about the area. I simply asked these leaders for the opportunity to learn from them.

2. I have interviewed many, many preachers. I asked questions about ministry and preaching, as well as for guidance in experiencing a long term ministry. These conversations also included questions about spiritual formation, dealing with conflict, and overcoming discouragement.

3. I have interviewed business people. From these individuals I have learned much about personal organization, time management, and developing a process for getting things done.

4. I have interviewed husbands to learn about marriage. I have interviewed fathers to learn how to be a better father.

5. Finally, I have interviewed coaches, teachers, professors, and others to gain understanding about various aspects of work and life with the goal of personal growth.


1. Consider what you need to learn at this point in your life. In what areas do you need to advance your knowledge and understanding?

2. Next, think about several people whom you could possibly learn from. Don’t assume that a particular person would never have a conversation with you. Far too many people assume that others would not make themselves available to them.  Consequently, they never ask.

3. Ask several people for conversations. Be sure to pay for lunch or coffee. Come prepared with good questions. Don’t underestimate what you might be able to learn.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “Ministry Inside.134

  1. I admire your self-assurance; and I mean that in a very good way. Not many have the emotional ability to put themselves at “the feet of others” to learn who they are and what they are about. It is that wall of pride around ministers and church leaders that many members, as well as outsiders, find so distasteful about the church.

    I actually believe that too many are afraid that the other person’s life may be more interesting and more colorful than theirs. Too often the desire to be unique kills any hunger we would otherwise have in wanting to know what is unique about the other, and we miss out on so much.

    But as an elderly lady once told me, “There is no need in trying to be different; we’re all unique in our own way…or weird…however you want to word it”. That is so true. We have so much to share and learn from one another. Some of it makes us laugh; some of it makes us cry; some of it makes us smarter. Some of it may even make our mouths drop open; but all of it makes for a unique day.

    • I appreciate your comment. In particular, I like your observation “I actually believe that too many are afraid that the other person’s life may be more interesting and more colorful than theirs.”

      So true. In fact, I think that sometimes we work very hard to convince one another that we really are quite cool and have an awesome life most every day. Maybe some of this is a fear that the ordinary might in some way signal to others that we are “less than.” Thanks so much.