I ONCE WORKED in the office of a very busy ministry leader with a singular ability to make you feel important. No matter where your appointment with him came in a day of his back-to-back meetings, you never felt that you were just another item on his to-do list.
He listened intently, and he lent into whatever the conversation was about as though it was the thing that most interested him in the world. He never looked at his watch, having his assistant knock to give the heads-up that it was five minutes until his next commitment, at which point he looked a little disappointed that time was almost up.
I don’t know how much of this was his natural inclination and how much was learned behavior, but it worked. You left the meeting wanting to do your best, no matter how mundane or time-consuming the task might be. I’m not suggesting this was all just savvy psychology on his part, a cynical means to an end. I believe that some of it was a reflection of the character of Jesus.
If anyone ever had a reason to be so caught up with “big things” that He didn’t have time for “little things,” surely it was Him. And He definitely had a clear agenda; Luke 9:51 says that He “set his face like flint” toward Jerusalem. He wasn’t just wandering around; He was going somewhere with purpose. And yet He was never too focused to notice people along the way, and to let them know that He noticed them.
Like the woman with the issue of blood, whose healing is recounted in Mark 5. You may recall that she was healed instantly when she reached out through the crowd to touch the hem of Jesus’ cloak.
Now, think about this for a moment: she was already made well, and Jesus was actually on the way to heal Jairus’s daughter, so there was no need for Him to stop. The woman knew that He had been the source of her healing, and presumably could have gone home rejoicing. But to Jesus, she wasn’t just one of the crowd, she was the one who had reached out for Him. He appears to have wanted her to know that he noticed her.
This reminds me that we can give people money, and we can give people of our talents, but the most valuable thing we may be able to give them is our time. Especially in this age of constant distraction and diversion, when there is always something out there competing for our attention, to ignore all that and give ourselves totally to the person we are with can be a rare gift of honor and dignity and respect.
One time I was at a swanky party and started chatting with someone who engaged me half-heartedly while looking over my shoulder the whole time, obviously checking to see if someone more important or interesting was around. It stung, but if I am honest, I am not always “all in” in my interactions with people, either. My half an eye or an ear out for something else may just not be as obvious.
Note to self: keep folks in focus.
Photo by Cuando apretas un tomate… on Foter.com/CC BY-NC-ND