Yesterday was my first day back at work after being a way for a number of weeks. It was interesting. First, it was good to see these people again — the people I work with and the people who make up our church. Much of the day and evening was spent in various conversations with people, catching up on their lives, etc. It was a reminder of how much I appreciate and love the people who make up our church.
Of course, there was much to do all day long. Sermon preparation, calls to return, some e-mails that I needed to send, and conversations with people updating me on what was happening in this or that ministry. During the morning, I went to a nearby hospital to speak with a family for a few minutes.
Through all of this, I realized that this was a very different pace than what I had been used to over the past few weeks. Over these weeks, I have spent much time trying to pay attention to what was going on around me. I attempted to pay attention to God, Scripture, my family, and people with whom I happened to be talking. On Tuesday of this week, I spent an hour or so trimming some branches on a tree down by our creek. I noticed birds, the sound of the water trickling in the creek, and clouds in the sky (seeming to promise rain).
Yesterday, I was reminded that I have to be intentional about my day. If I just let the day happen (as so many of us do), I will allow what is happening around me dictate my day, the way I spend my time, and what I give my attention to. Does that sound familiar to you?
If I am not careful, I can get into a kind of lifestyle that is busy, and perhaps productive, but is full of clutter. What I mean by "clutter" is not being busy or having a lot to do on a given day. Rather, I am referring to a way of living so that one becomes almost deaf to the voices that are really important and blind to the matters that really do need my attention. I can just become a busy person deceived into thinking that I must be doing what I need to do or I would not be this busy.
Do you relate to this? Perhaps you deal with the same kinds of issues in your job or at home. I suspect you do.
What I have learned about working in a church setting is that so many matters that receive attention, time, and energy are often really not that important. Talking about it or wanting to do it doesn’t make it important. Putting something on paper, in a post, or in a document of some sort doesn’t make it important. Getting upset about something (or watching someone else get upset about a matter) doesn’t make it important.
I need to be asking, "Are these things that seem to scream for attention related to the kingdom concerns of Jesus? Are these really connected to the central concerns of Jesus regarding loving God and loving people?" I also need to be asking, "Are there issues and concerns that I (we) am dodging for some reason? Could it be that some of these concerns are in fact great concerns to Jesus?"
What helps you maintain your internal compass during the day? What helps you maintain a sense of calmness and focus during the day when your attention is being called for on a number of different fronts?