The man sitting next to me, writing.

I sat in the second row at the seminar, third seat from the center aisle. I never sit that close, but I had decided that I wanted to concentrate, to focus on learning. There was a man in the first seat by the center aisle. He leaned over, looked at my nametag, and misread the “where I’m from.” line. I smiled, corrected him, and looked at his nametag.

I immediately recognized his name, and then his voice. He’s a reputable pastor in a reputable church in Chicago. I’ve known his name for years, listened to his voice on the radio from time to time, read a couple of his books.

As the seminar started, I thought about whether to say anything to him, whether to ask some profound question. But I plunged into taking notes. And realized that the man next to me was taking notes. Page after page, we kept pace. Because it was a content-rich, concept-rich, seminar.

At a break between presentations, we were to stand, stretch, and tell the person next to us one thing we’d learned in the previous session. I said, “I’ll tell you in six hours.” Not very profound, but accurate. I need time to process. He smiled, and then clearly summarized the core question facing churches from the previous hour. I asked a followup question, he answered, and then it was time to go back to work.

Again, we were both taking notes in great detail. At the end of the morning, he said, “Good to see you.” “Good to meet you,” I said. “Good to see you,” he said as we shook hands.

He’s a learner. At seventy-two, he’s still humbly listening, meeting, learning, growing. There is still a lot to learn.

Apparently, that’s what I learned from the first session.

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About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.

6 thoughts on “The man sitting next to me, writing.

  1. A comment and a question . . . The seventies are prime time for learning when the setting is healthy. . . What was the “core question facing churches” in that seminar?

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    1. his summary was about being more intentional about not building church around those of us who are professionals. Moving away from a model that says that pastors do ministry, do the direct work of helping people, and into a model, which is far more like Jesus’ model, which has everyone learning how to and feeling free to help people.

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  2. Jon . . . Thank you for your answer; I Like! Rereading my question, I found my query to be close to an inappropriate probe . . . It is good, however, that at this stage of my game, I still seek info!!

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