People have stories they need to tell. Wearing the role of pastor for a lifetime has probably facilitated the story telling. Pastors are perceived as people who can be trusted, people who care, and people who will listen. In the last couple of years I have learned that it is not all about the preacher persona. There are stories people need to tell and that need transcends the role of the pastor.
I have been reminded of this often in these years when folks do not see me first as their pastor. It happened again the other day in the most ordinary of conversations. One moment the talk was about a business and the next moment the conversation was filled with words about the change of a job, death of husband, and past struggles with cancer. And then came words about the difference faith in Christ had meant through all these things. She did not know me as pastor. Instead I was the "someone" with her when the need to tell her story overwhelmed her once again.
It happens like this over and over for all of us. Sometimes we are the story teller needing someone to listen and care. Sometimes we are the caregiver and listener. God has a way of bringing the two together in His time.