Looking Sideways

It’s amazing to me how people start acting differently around you when you say that you are a minister, but even more so if you say that you are a preacher and even more so if you say you are actually preaching in the near future.

There’s a look that crosses their faces accompanied by a long pause. There’s something about the title preacher that puts people on their best behavior. That part doesn’t bother me. I am used to people straigthening up when I walk into a room because I was a teacher, but what I can’t get over is the looking sideways.

I will be sitting at a dinner table and a religious topic comes up and suddenly it’s as if the person is having a nonverbal communication with only me. They are actively participating in the conversation, but they are looking at me. I guess it’s to judge my reaction or to see if they are right or something along those lines, but I’ve learned not to participate in these conversations unless I am specifically asked a question. I don’t mean I blow off the conversation, but there’s no need to enter conversations just because they are religious and just because you are a minister.

I’ve learned this the hard way. I’ve caused friends to stop talking to me about religious matters because I was overeager to share what I had learned in class. In my head, it didn’t come across as defensive or matter-of-fact, but in the conversation it did, so instead of opening the table of conversation, I slammed the door shut.

Sometimes the most effective ministry doesn’t mean I have to say a word.