Read Lead Pastor Duane Mabee's weekly Pastor's Ponderings here!
Be All Thereby Duane Mabee on March 9, 2017
On the bookshelf behind me is a painting by one of our daughters. There is a quote on it from Jim Elliot which reads, “Wherever you are, be all there.” I don’t do that well. It has never been easy, but in our age of multitasking and digital distractions it is almost impossible.
We believe so much in our ability to multitask that to suggest that we can’t do it seems as ludicrous as saying the Pope isn’t Catholic (no disrespect to the Pope). But, people who use their smart phone while driving are just as impaired as a drunk driver! You may not believe that, but your insurance company does. Multitaskers score very poorly at multitasking itself, (Medefind and Lokkesmoe). That’s not hard to believe. I have had to terminate more than one employee because they wouldn’t stop multitasking and focus on their job.
My concern here isn’t your employment, though I would be happy if this note helped you keep your job. My concern is our relationships. One of the ways we serve others with our communication is by being fully present while they are speaking. Too many children and spouses have checked out of the relationships in their family because they don’t feel like anybody is listening anyway. When they talk, they feel like that their parent or spouse’s mind is miles away.
Let me give an example. Years ago, I had a boss who would clean out his wallet every time I came to his office to talk with him about something. His eyes and his attention were focused on the stuff in his wallet; never on me. It was a weird habit. I would have taken it personally except he did it to everyone. It makes you wonder what could be left in there to clean out. The result was, his employees stopped communicating with him. Why bother? He wasn’t listening anyway.
Even as I write this, I know I am guilty. I have had far too many conversations with Karla where I sensed her disappointment because I wasn’t really listening. My mind was on something else. My attention was divided. I was there physically, but I wasn’t “all there”. Is that how the people who talk with you feel? Your attention is not really with them. It’s on your device. It’s on some other issue. It’s on what you’re going to say when they finally stop talking. Something seems more important to you than they do. If so, they will stop communicating.
To “be all there” means to block out all other distractions and actively listen. Listen to understand. Listen to hear their heart. See their face. Read their body language. Experience their stories. Share their emotions. When you do that, you signify to them that “you are what is most important to me right now”. You tell them that they are fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s eyes and in yours. Jesus serves as our example. Look at Mark 5:21-34 and pay attention to how He interrupted a very important mission to focus on one woman in need.
I have some work to do on being all there. Do you?