nowhere is the pastor more the pastor than at the hospital. at the hospital, i get to be “the man.” hospital staff (even surgeons) defer to me if the patient wants to pray before surgery. conversations cease, crowds part, and patients sigh with relief when pastor shows up. it’s quite the ego stroke.
but i’ve also felt incredibly stupid at the hospital.
like the time i prayed passionately for a lady to be healed…until i realized she was dead (‘uh, nurse, we’ve got a problem in 312″). or the time i walked in on the sweet old lady from our church (knock quietly and then enter–that’s proper procedure) in the bathroom. or the time i fell asleep in the waiting room while one of my board members was in surgery. and, seriously, are those gowns supposed to keep anything covered?
they say that people who are in a coma can hear us. personally, i really hope that’s not true.
the best, though, is prayer time. i’ve witnessed a few “prayer orgies.” that’s where more than one pastor is in the room (happens way more often than you might think) and someone suggests a group prayer. if there is not a dominant pastor present (i.e.: district official, or a senior pastor attended by several lowly staff members) then a competition ensues. whoever prays the loudest and prettiest is the winner (it’s like the grand finale at the gaither concert when all the “stars” come on stage at once).
another awful prayer time faux pas is trying to decide whether or not to join hands. some family members do, and some don’t. this maneuver is especially dicey if the patient’s hand is not easily visible, and even worse if he/she is unconscious. besides the obvious obstacles (tubes, wires, telephone cords, etc), you will likely find something you do not want to find if you grope for the unseen hand. it’s a common rookie mistake that has marred many a promising career. trust me, you can never again look that particular person in the eye.
so how ’bout it, ministerial colleagues…any great hospital stories?