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  • Writer's pictureAlice J Stewart

The Blessing of More Time than Money, and an Invitation

As a “starving college student,” I had more time than money. Of course, I wouldn’t have had more time if I spent all my time studying. (You didn’t hear that, Mom & Dad!) I found myself shopping at thrift stores. 

Thrift stores are excellent places if you have the time to look at absolutely everything. People who have more time than money are the target market of thrift stores. 

Long after I did not need thrift stores, I still have a soft spot in my heart for them. I even follow a Facebook group called “Weird Secondhand Finds the Just Need to be Shared.” It’s my favorite thing on Facebook.

Likewise, I’ve found excellent benefits to having more time than money in churches. Let’s take pastoral care of non-congregants as an example. 

I’ve worked and volunteered in churches during on weekdays, and have had many occasions to speak with people who need help. Most of the time, I’ve been alone, or the clergy was not present. 

What the people usually request is money, but what they love is time. As a non-ordained person, I do not have access to funds. But I do have time. I have all the time in the world to listen to someone. Well, at least an hour or so. 

I’ve known all my life, as someone who people come to when they need to unburden themselves, that listening is both needed and appreciated. It is a healing act. It is the primary thing we should do in life - all of us. Nothing else is as good as being listened to. And nothing else is as good as being a listener. 

So I listen. I heard and still hear all sorts of stories. I’ve made friends. I’ve helped people with their resumes and been their go-to person when they needed more printed out. I’ve given a hand up, even if I couldn’t give a handout. I regularly offer a hug to those who may not have been offered one in years. I follow up, when possible. I carry these people in my heart. 

And if you ask me, I am grateful I never had the money to give. I am grateful I could only (and willingly) provide an ear and a warm heart. Maybe some effort - again willingly. I am grateful I had the opportunity to show someone respect, listen to them as if every word were utterly factual, and call them out like a friend if they pushed my boundaries. I am grateful to have seen so many people behave even more like adults deserving respect because I treated them respectfully as adults. I have seen lives changed for the better because of just this. 

Just this. No money. Only time. 

Pastoral care, which is what this is, can be yours. It can be given to your community. It can be learned and prayed for and offered. 

It can’t be paid for. Ask any clergy. Ask any elder in the church. Ask a friend and a loved one. It is freely given, and the gift received by the listener is its own delight. 

When have you listened? Would you like to get better? How would you like to learn? Is now the time?

And now, I would like to listen to you. I want to hear your story. 

I want to hear your story of church. Of woe. Of woe in church. 

I want to hear your story of hope. Of hope in church. Of “someday,” or “if only.” 

I want to hear your story of questions and doubts and frustrations - as well as joys. 

I want to hear the story you can’t tell anyone in church because you’re afraid they might take it wrong or it just doesn’t feel right. 

Your story will not be repeated. Your story will live in my heart. Your story is yours. Your story will be an introduction to our friendship if you desire. The first of an ongoing conversation, if you so wish. 

Tell me your story. It will be safe. I will not judge. And I have so many stories to tell you too. Send your story here:, and I'm looking forward to hearing from you very soon. 


Photo by chrissie kremer on Unsplash

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