One of my favorite aspects of my “job” as a pastor is my weekly lunches with men in our church. I try to do this at least two days a week and work through the list of members and newer guys. In this practice I feel like I am the one who comes away blessed. I know there is some aid to the ministry and hopefully some personal encouragement to them but the reality is I benefit greatly.
Here are some basic priorities for pastors in their meetings with guys.
Listen. They already hear you talk a lot. This is your opportunity to hear them. Ask them questions that help you to better know them. Ask them about their families, hobbies, jobs, etc. Ask them about how they met their wife, where they are from, what they do for work, what their extended family dynamic is like. Ask good questions and just listen.
Learn. As you are listening you will find out that these guys are interesting. Even the most non-talkative guys will open up, and when they do, you have something. The other day I met with a man that I would call a hero in the Vietnam war. He sacrificed so much to serve so many, but as I listened to his stories I heard more on this theme of sacrifice. I learned of a guy who has been a quiet servant of Jesus for decades. Do you think a young guy like me might be able to learn something from him? Absolutely. I’m learning from his love for his wife, children, church family, neighbors, and friends. I learn from his tenacity in prayer. This is one example of a guy, there are scores of others who have instructed me through their steady faithfulness in service.
Love. When guys are talking you often hear of weakness. They admit their shortcomings, challenges, and pain. They talk of temptation, sin, and regret. How do you handle this? You love them with the truth of the Scriptures. You identify how the character and promises of God intersect with their particular problem; you show them how Jesus and his work answer their weakness. You promise to pray for them, hold them accountable, and then you do it. You love them.
Lead. One of the things I love about these meetings is that you often will see early signs of problems before they get to triage level. This is pastoral gold. When you can spot wrong thinking or living and lovingly point them to Scripture and they get it—you have just scored a major pastoral victory. It is far easier to prevent disaster than it is to repair disaster. Pastoral lunches help to identify issues lovingly lead these guys down the right path.
Sometimes it is not a major issue that comes up, it is just general Christian living–the meat and potatoes of prayer, Bible reading, and leadership. It is so good to be able to sit with guys and encourage them in the gospel to be faithful. In the space between lunches I have seen guys become more faithful in leading their families, personal godliness, and personal witness. It is really quite amazing to watch.
If you are a pastor then it is good for your soul to prioritize pastoral lunches. You need to get some good news and encouragement. You need to get to know these guys in your care. You need to care for their souls. So go in there with a plan to bless and be blessed as you endeavor to keep watch over their souls (Heb. 13.17).