I just finished lunch with a retired pastor from my denomination who was sent in my direction by the committee in my denomination that is trying to do a better job of caring for their active clergy.
I am for that. In theory.
If you are one of these poor souls sent out on this particular mission, here are a few Do's and Dont's. You can take them or leave them:
DO continue to take my prompts for you to continue talking about yourself so I don't have to delve too far into me. Well, that is unless you actually want to get to know me.
DON'T respond to the answer of the question of what I do for a hobby (in my case, softball) with, "Oh, that's different."
DON'T roll your eyes when you put together that I am divorced. You don't know my story.
DON'T respond to my lighthearted comment that I am hoping to ride out the honeymoon phase here as long as possible with, "Well, that has to be almost over now, doesn't it."
DON'T make it so hard for me to communicate that I actually have to say, "Please hear what I am saying."
DON'T respond to your own realization at the amount of staff who are here and the size of the congregation and how I look to you sitting before you with, "Well how did you manage that?" (I swear I was 'this' close to channeling Erin Brockovich, "They're called boobs, Ed," even though clearly (I hope) that is not the case here.)
DON'T go on and on about how I should hold onto ministry as long as I can when I get to retirment age when a) I probably won't have a choice due to lack of funds both national and denominational and b) when so many of your colleagues are doing that EXACT thing while fresh talent is left to wait in the wings, making coffee lattes at Starbucks while they wait for someone to have the guts to tell the 78 year old it is time to step down.
DO continue to included the follow up advice to the above which was, "Unless you have a great reason, something you are hot for, to retire."