Brother Lee called me a while ago – he used to be a Shepherd at our church and is currently the Director of the Korean National Cancer Center. He was in Houston and called to say hello. I remembered that he had kept his house in Houston so that his children could live there, so I said, “Oh, you must be visiting Houston to see your children!” There was a pause on the other end of the line, and then he said that he had sold the house a long time ago and that none of his children lived in Houston anymore. I then remembered that my wife had relayed this information to me some time back.
A few weeks ago, when my wife and I were making our regular Friday house church visit, I asked one member what he did for a living. He seemed a little perplexed by my question and responded, “This is the third time you’ve asked me that.” I had asked him about his work when he first visited our church, again over dinner when he was taking the New Life Bible class, and again this time. Graciously, he explained in detail what he does for the third time.
I’m getting more forgetful as I get older. My wife is also starting to have the same problem. There’s one advantage to that: we repeat things as earnestly as if we’re telling them for the first time. And we listen to others’ same stories attentively, as though we’re hearing them for the first time.
I’m known for remembering most of our church members’ names, so people assume that I have a good memory. But that’s not so. I just try hard to remember names because I feel that, as their shepherd, I ought to know them. So when I pray for our church members in the morning and cannot match names to faces, I immediately look up their picture on the church directory. This is how I’m able to remember our church members’ names.
The New Life Bible study I lead usually has 70 to 90 people, mostly new church members or non-members. I make an intense effort to memorize their names and faces, so that after two weeks, I usually know the names of everyone in the class. The problem is that I tend to forget their names after the 13-week class is over!
Instead of bemoaning my fading memory, I try to find ways to prevent my forgetfulness from harming my work. When I hear something I need to remember, I immediately record it in my pocket computer. When I make an appointment, I write down the person’s name as well as the meeting place and time on the spot before I can forget.
Many of our church members have exceptional memories. They remember details of my sermons from many years ago, especially illustrations and anecdotes. I imagine that it might be exasperating for them to see their Pastor being so forgetful and denying that he said certain things they know he said, or insisting that he said things they’re sure he didn’t. I ask for their understanding and patience and that they help me to remember things, knowing that they will probably also become as forgetful as I am some day.
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