Pastors: What do you talk about at the dinner table?

pastor familyIn the busyness of life, you do have dinner with your family, right? So, what do you talk about at the dinner table?

I recently read an article about Robert Caro, author of multiple biographies of President Lyndon Johnson. His wife is his researcher. Yet Caro says they never talk about LBJ at dinnertime.

That struck me. I do have dinner with my husband most nights I’m not traveling. And, I noticed how I spent much of that time talking about my work and what happened that day (with a little about his day…). I decided to change my habit.

My husband is a public reference librarian, and in quiet moments he looks up science news online. I started asking him, “Did you read anything interesting on the Internet today?” It’s made our dinner conversation far more interesting and even inspiring. Plus, I’m getting a deeper understanding of what makes him tick (after decades–). Last night he told me about some new research into trilobite fossils. (Here’s the link for you science geeks.)

Bring your pastoral skills home.

Day in and day out, you listen at work. So it’s time to practice listening to your spouse and your children, and talking about what they are interested in. Broaden your perspective. Treat them as well as you do members of the congregation.

Whatever you are talking about, keep it positive. No ranting about church or politics.

Does this mean you never talk about church at home? Of course not. It’s close to your heart and you want to share it with those you are closest to. However, venting about church to your spouse is overrated and it doesn’t help you solve the problem. (Stay tuned for that article).

Here are three suggestions for your next family meal:

  1. Ask each person what they want (for tomorrow’s dinner, for vacation, in life). Then listen.
  2. Tell each person what you appreciate about them.
  3. If you do talk about church, share the good things that happened.

If you try these steps out, please do email me and let me know how the experiment goes. I’d love to hear how this works for you.

Question for reflection: If you are partnered, what is your partner most interested in? When can you engage them in conversation about it?

Until next week,



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