I don't know why I was so surprised. After all, it had been my own experience most of my ministry life. The fact that a pastor living in my community was the least known person in the neighborhood should simply have made sense, but it did not.
I was standing in the street with a dozen or so people from my neighborhood. We all were new to the community, as it was a new construction subdivision. All of us had moved into new homes within the previous two months. One of my neighbors said, "I love this neighborhood! The people are so friendly! I've never lived anywhere where I knew so many of my neighbors." Someone else remarked, "It's because we are all new to the community. We have much in common and it draws us together."
What she said was true. Our common experience of getting rid of moving boxes, dealing with water leaks and other construction snafus, and trying to get grass to grow brought us together in unique ways. One had to work hard not to know his or her neighbors.
That is exactly what one family had done. As my neighbors and I delighted in our new-found relationships, one woman remarked, "There is only one family on the block I do not know." She pointed out the house right next to my own where the family she referred to lived. Others began exclaiming that they did not know the family either. Many observed that rarely was anyone seen home at the residence. Finally one person said, "I've been told he is a pastor."
I wanted to crawl into my skin. I had met the man who lived next door to me, and yes, he was a pastor … a very busy pastor. So busy, in fact, that he had no time to meet or interact with his neighbors.
I would like to say the feelings overwhelming me as I stood among my friendly neighbors stemmed solely ...