I'm speaking this morning to a church women's group. My pal is the pastor. She's not had an easy time during her five years of ministry there because of a) the church's generational history of being stinky to preachers; b) she's starting a family; and c) she's lively, bright and quick.
She plows ahead doing careful pastoral work, youth work, crafts lovely sermons and gives time to the denomination.
When she called to ask me to speak at the monthly luncheon, I asked what topic she wanted. We talked over several ideas then I told her that I'd read one chapter of the Purpose Driven (either life or church, can't remember) on "Protecting Your Pastor" after hearing about it from another colleague.
Seemed like a good topic for a congregation familar with NOT PROTECTING THE PASTOR. She agreed.
Weeks later, one of her colleagues committed suicide. His death has shot the nerves of his church people and those who knew him down here.
She speculated last night that the women might be helped by hearing my talk from the perspective of his death.
I don't think so. I'm not sure if suicide is anyone's fault or if suicide can be stopped although families and friends torture themselves over whether a chance comment or action could have helped.
If I talk about encouraging the pastor, will my listeners think I am chiding them for not being attentive to the pastor who died? I think so.
I'm not sure anyone prevents the suicide of a determined adult.
I'm not an expert on suicide.
I'm re-arranging my topic this morning. I wanted to be prepared with time spent crafting remarks rather than blowing into the luncheon with off-the-cuff preacher stories.
Not sure I can pull this off with a few hours to prepare.
Exegeting one's audience takes skill and attentiveness. I consider this every week with every word I write. The church women know about the suicide. They know I'm pals with their pastor. I was walking a fine line of blasting them for being stinky with my "protect" talk.
If you need me, I'll be scratching my head and staring out the window.