Word of the Week

Be All There

As a follow-up from my earlier post this week about balance, I thought I'd continue this same conversation along the lines of how our "I'm busy" attitudes shapes the activities in our lives that we actually have time for.

I can't tell you how many times people say to me in passing or during a set time we are spending together: "I know you are so busy and don't have time to talk long, but I really need to say just this one thing . . . "  In this, I sense much anxiety and hurry in conversation because folks assume I'm ready to be off to the next thing before even our time is over. I'm sure this statement is not exclusive to the pastorate and shows up in other people orientated professions too.

And, while I applaud the concern others have for my time and diversity of responsibilities, it makes me sad to think that parishioners and others don't actually believe I'm perfectly content in the moment to be with just them.

When I make appointments to have lunch or coffee with a person or I have a chance to chat on the phone with someone during a time that is good for both of us, I try to live by the motto that Jim Elliot once said, "Wherever you are, be all there." And, in those moments-- there is no one else I am thinking about or want to spent time with than the person before me. If this wasn't true, why did I go to all the trouble to schedule a meeting just with them, after all?

There is a gift, I believe, that each of us have with our time. We can all try to multitask our way to doing more than is humanly possible in one day or we can manage our schedules in such a way that we have the opportunity to be present wherever the minutes of our days find us.

Sure, there will always be crises that render us unfocused, distracted and unable to be present in anyone's thoughts than our own, but if we are seeking to live intentional lives, doing meaningful things, then we have to carve out time in our schedules for people and causes that matter to us AND be all there when we arrive in them.

Sometimes this will involve honestly saying to the other, "I'm sorry, something unusual just happened and I have a lot on my mind this afternoon. But, I still really wanted to be present here with you, so bear with me."  Sometimes this will involve canceling appointments and rescheduling them for better time. Sometimes this will involve hiding our cell phones, blackberries or other mobile devises from our reach when we are having a conversation. Sometimes this will involve the realization that there are some folks/ situations that we have no business being present in anyway-- for we are truly incapable of being "all there" EVER.

Just know from this pastor's desk, that if we have a meeting to spend time together, I count it as a gift and my pleasure and will do everything I can to be present with you in the time we have and hope you are able to do the same. And, in giving and receiving the gift of each other's time, I believe,  we might just stop wasting time  in the precious moments of our days talking about how busy we think we are.