People or Things?
What would you say is more important, people or things?
I am sure we would all say “people”. I mean, who would want to be caught saying “things”.
But what does that look like in real time?
I heard a phrase a long time ago that has always stuck with me:
“You can expedite things, but not people.”
Early on I had to learn this the hard way. Each day I would write my “things to do list” and I would do my best to prioritize. Otherwise, to use another common phrase,
“If you don’t prioritize, even if you do climb the ladder to the top, you might find it is leaning against the wrong wall!”
On the list there would almost always be a blend of projects to accomplish and people to meet with. This is normal, but what I did not account for is that things and people are different.
When I would schedule time for projects, I could usually knock them out in the time I allotted. However, I would find that when I was meeting with a person, it would often go “overtime” because they would begin sharing things at a deeper level than expected. Or just as our time -the time I had scheduled – was about up, they would ask my advice on an important issue they were facing.
When this would happen, I would begin to get anxious. I would think about everything else on my list that still needed to be accomplished for that day. However, what would happen was not good.
First, I would not be giving the person my full attention because I would be thinking about other “things”. Therefore, my input would not be as God-led as it would be if I were listening intently and asking Jesus what He would have me say to the person.
Secondly, they could tell.
I had one leader in my church call me on it. He said that he could tell that when we would do our monthly lunch that it was obvious that I had scheduled him in a certain window of time and once it began to close I would begin moving us towards wrapping up. Now this person really loves me, and our church, and offers much of his time and expertise to help us fulfill our calling. This is not someone I should be trying to expedite.
Neither is your wife, your husband, kids, friends, neighbors, or even strangers.
People are not things.
Well, after being a bit defensive at first, and irritated, thinking it was more his issue than mine, I decided to not schedule anything on the back end of our lunches and allow him to determine when our lunch was over. Well, come to find out, it caused me to be much more relaxed and attentive, and it deepened our friendship. And it wasn’t like he didn’t have things to do himself, he is an executive who would take time out of his extremely demanding work day to meet with me!
Think about Jesus. He had a pretty important assignment to accomplish – living a perfect life, giving us teachings that would influence the entire world for two millennia, dying for our sins, defeating Satan by rising from the dead, overseeing the global Church, and preparing for His return to rule the new heavens and new earth that He will create.
However, we often find Him spending time with individuals. Even people most would consider unimportant. And He never seemed rushed.
Why? Because He came for people, not things. He came for me. He came for you.
As a follower of Jesus, and one who wants to emulate Him, remember, people are not things.