I sat around the table at a staff meeting struggling to find the right words to say as I navigated updating our team about a challenging situation with one of our members. Ministry is hard work, but it is holy work. Ministry is not simple and walking with people who are hurting is not simple.
Loving your neighbors does not happen accidentally, it takes being willing to be interruptible.
After the staff meeting, I had emails to respond to, unread text messages, two counseling sessions, an additional staff meeting and a new ministry to launch requiring at least 25 highly committed volunteers. So, when Cheryl asked to talk to me, I took a deep breath and made a choice. I like things to be done efficiently, competently and on time. It was a challenging choice to focus exclusively on her. But I choose her.
Throughout the new testament Jesus stopped and gave individual attention to people.
He was interruptible
It was a sweet ministry opportunity and after all isn’t that what we are all called to do? We are called to love God and love others. Here are three things I would encourage you to consider if you want to choose people over projects.
- Find a healthy Rhythm:Turn off as many phone notifications as you can. All those pings and vibrations ruin your ability to focus on what matters in the moment. Some jobs require constant attention and timely responses, but most of us can find a healthy rhythm and only check our phone or computer on a pre-determined schedule. I keep a close eye on my text messages because many of the people who reach out to me are in crisis and need a timely response, but with that said I put my phone away when I’m counseling or meeting staff or volunteers. I want them to know they are important to me and have my full attention.
- Schedule: I have changed my coaching/counseling sessions to 45-50 minutes instead of an hour. That gives me time to check my phone if needed. I don’t believe anyone including me is so important that they have to keep looking at their phone unless they are a 911 operator. If I can be brutally honest with you, it is an addiction of self-importance and a digital dopamine fix you have to feed. If you can’t go 50 minutes without checking your phone you have an addiction to your phone.
In recovery I would say hi my name is Judy I’m a grateful believer who struggles with self-importance, people pleasing and an addiction to technology.
- Margin: Do your absolute best to plan ahead. Don’t plan on completing things at the last minute. I try to be ready 45 minutes before all events. That gives me margin for the unexpected. Mark Batterson says, “Hurry kills compassion and creativity” and I would have to agree with him.
Choosing to not be in a hurry, to be interruptible and to plan ahead gives you space to show compassion and shepherd people well. As you become more intentional with your time you will find that being interruptible can be a part of your health ministry life.
By Judy Cintron, Restoration Director
Real Life Ministries Texas