Never before has the world had so many techniques and tools for time management. We can schedule our days down to the nanosecond in multi-colored, multi-platform splendor.
But what happens to our time management systems when
- Someone has a crisis, and/or
- You have a window of opportunity to show Christ
Do you see these as interruptions, or opportunities?
Jesus was frequently busy, but never hurried. We never see him bemoan time lost due to “interruptions.”
Consider Luke 8:40-56. He has just come ashore to a huge crowd. An important man in the city named Jairus interrupts his landing with an urgent request: “Come quickly… my daughter is dying!” Jesus heads out.
Then it happens… the interruption to the interruption. A woman who has experienced a condition of bleeding for years touches Jesus. And in the middle of a 911 call, Jesus stops!
Does she have any idea what she’s just done? Jesus is on his way to perform a miracle of healing. This woman, due to her condition, has just rendered him ceremonially unclean by touching him according to customs. How would Jesus fulfill his responsibilities now? Would a little girl die because of this woman’s brash behavior?
But Jesus doesn’t berate this woman, he comforts and encourages her. Perhaps he sensed her need for a response: “Your faith has made you well… go in peace” (Luke 8:48).
Jesus manages to balance an important tension: the tension between response and responsibility.
But since we’re not the living Son of God, how to we balance this tension?
Response vs. Responsibility
Sometimes, there are legitimate crises. People need immediate help. But here’s the good news with most legitimate crises: there are agencies and professionals trained to handle them. Sometimes our best response is to get these people connected to agencies and professionals who can help them best.
What can we offer that’s different? Christ’s presence. During that initial contact or transition, is there some way you can make Christ’s presence known to them?
And if it’s a minor crisis, or a window of opportunity, can you respond in a way that preserves your ability to respond and be responsible?
The Way Ahead
I don’t like answers that say, “Pray about it” and “It depends.” But in this case, those answers apply!
But much like the 10 year test, I wonder if we can ask ourselves in that moment of choice: which decision will have the greater eternal impact?
For example: You’re scheduled for a finance team meeting when someone tearfully appears at your doorway: they think their husband/wife is cheating on them. Do you
- Go to the meeting (responsibility) or
- Sit down and talk with them (response)
“Which one will have the greater eternal impact?” If it’s a routine financial review, perhaps you can ask the team to press on without you. But what if your finance meeting is with a contact that may fund a poverty initiative, potentially bringing hundreds of thousands of dollars to bear in the fight against poverty?
Not easy, eh?
But all is not lost! What if you said to your tearful interruption, “This is so important, we need to set aside some time to talk where we won’t be interrupted. Are you free at 2pm today? I want to hear you without distraction.”
Balancing response and responsibility is tricky, but looking for eternal impact can help make decisions in the heat of the moment.
I guess instead of managing time, we should be managing the timeless… those things that will echo in eternity!
How do you balance response versus responsibility? What other scenarios or suggestions have you seen?