How can I eliminate a common distraction when ministering to people face to face?

Well, I hope you are sitting down.  This is going to be profound.  Ready?  Be aware of the status of your breath.  That’s it?  Come on!  This may seem irrelevant, but remember how you felt the last time you spoke with someone whose breath took your breath away?  Consider how distracting and unpleasant it was.  Consider what your impression of that person was after that encounter.  Most of us find this issue to be deeply personal to us, and it is offensive and embarrassing if someone bothers to bring it to our attention.  However, there is a simple solution for everyone.  Be humble and aware of it.  Always carry with you gum or a mint to take care of the problem.  Of all the things that can negatively affect our ministry to others, this one can be easily eliminated with a little awareness and planning. 

Having considered this issue, we must also be gracious towards the breath of those we are visiting.  Even though you should expect your breath to be pleasant, it is an unrealistic expectation for sick people (especially those in the hospital), who have not showered nor brushed their teeth in days, to be able to do anything about it.  Therefore, be gracious and sensitive to their situation.

This principle should also be applied to your day-to-day interactions with people in your church.  A most important time for me to be aware of the “status” of my breath is when I greet people as they leave church on Sunday morning after I have preached.  Have those around you who feel comfortable to tell you randomly on a Sunday morning, “Hey, you need a mint.”  Years ago, I knew I had a special relationship with my associate pastor when he leaned over to me while sitting on the platform just before the service started and gave me that crucial counsel, “Don’t talk to anyone else until you get a mint.” 

The enemy is trying really hard to put up as many barriers between us and our people.  Therefore, whether in a hospital or greeting people as they leave on Sunday, eliminate one by always carrying gum or a mint…and don’t be afraid to use them.

Posted in Hospital Visitation, Training for Ministry
8 comments on “How can I eliminate a common distraction when ministering to people face to face?
  1. Sandra English says:

    I once went to a church where the pastor had a bad habit of looking at his watch when he was talking to you. This was not good.

  2. Good advice. This was something Dr. David Larsen gave us in our Pastoral Duties class when I was at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School years ago. I still practice this. I have mints and gum in my car. On Sunday mornings, I have a certain type of breath mint I use (sugarless, for this leaves no aftertaste; the sugar-based mints will ruin your breath after the first half hour). Three go into my pocket on Sunday mornings: one for prior to our Bible class, one to follow that which leads into our Worship Service, and then one which I can slip into my mouth at the very close of the service, so as I greet people, I’m not offending them.

    Some will argue that this is too trivial to make an issue, but you address this by having us remember those with whom we have spoken who have “dragon breath.”

    Let’s take care of as many offenses as we can and leave God to take care of the offense of the cross.

  3. Tic Tacs are my weapon of choice.

  4. A great practical reminder – one that is often overlooked. Funny how the pulse rates shoot up when one has to politely inform another of the status of their rank breath. A pastor should always have mints available.

    Question: does gum chewing, when not practiced discreetly, distract from interacting with others? I’ll often chew gum right up to the appt and then throw the gum out before I visit. It keeps me from absentmindedly looking like a “valley girl” chewing my gum as I’m listening to my congregant.

    Thanks for your posts, I really have appreciated this blog.

  5. Steve says:

    A quickly administered Altoid makes all the difference!

  6. Todd says:

    Very practical.

2 Pings/Trackbacks for "How can I eliminate a common distraction when ministering to people face to face?"
  1. […] Well, I hope you are sitting down.  This is going to be profound.  Ready?  Be aware of the status of your breath.  That's it?  Come on!  This may seem irrelevant, but remember how you felt the last time you spoke with someone whose breath took your breath away?  Consider how distracting and unpleasant it was.  Consider what your impression of that person was after that encounter.  Most of us find this issue to be deeply personal to us, and it is … Read More […]

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