29 November 2010
Called to the Task at Hand
Okay, first things first - being a pastor ≠ being a Jedi. The only similarity is that we both wear robes. And the lightsaber, of course.
I've been at the Center late the last two nights talking with students. Sunday it was just checking in after we decided to put off a new Bible study until the spring semester, and tonight it was a very good, very honest, very inspiring meeting between some of our Board and some of our students. There's been time to just sit and listen, to be in the moment, to pay attention to the quotidian* dilemmas that arise and respond as seems most appropriate. In other words, to do my damn job. It's been wonderful.
The similarity to the movie scene above comes at the end. "Never his mind on WHERE. HE. WAS. hm? WHAT. HE. WAS. DOING. Hm!" That's been me for the past year or so - attention diverted in so many different ways it's embarrassing to look back and see it. I haven't been whining about wanting to go to Tashi Station to pick up power converters, but I haven't exactly been a model of patience and presence, either - I've been forgetful, distant, absent-minded and even rude at times, and no matter how genuinely important the distractions have been (and they've all been important, even if I can't share), I bear the blame for letting them pull my focus away from the ministry to which I've been called.
Tonight the last of the latest distraction officially wrapped itself up, just before the meeting I described above, and while that particular wrap-up carried with it some emotional weight I'll carry for a bit longer, I couldn't help but notice that I was finally paying close attention again to the task at hand. It seems I'm just not a good multi-tasker, and after carrying one thing after another for the past 12 months or so, it was a revelation to be so in the moment that I lost track of time in the course of tending to the meeting and actively listening to what was being said.
It goes without saying that distractions will come and go, that situations requiring more than their share of our emotional, spiritual and mental attention will always be near us. No one of us can ever be expected to be "on our game" 100% of the time. But people who are the best at what they do have the ability to shove aside distractions in the moment and focus on where they're called to be. Michael Jordan fights a 100+ degree fever to score a ton of points in the NBA finals. Beethoven continues to compose his greatest works after he's begun losing his hearing. Bonhoeffer begins work on his magnum opus Ethik behind the bars of a Nazi prison. The question I'm thinking about tonight is, do I have it within me to use this time to train myself to focus again, to pay attention to the things in front of me right now and not allow the distractions to pull me away from what God has called me to do?
I have been called to a ministry here, one I've allowed to flounder while I dealt with other things, some of which needed more attention, some of which deserved special consideration, and some of which I used to dodge my responsibilities. No more. Time to put my mind on where I am. Hm. What I'm doing. Hm. Now - where did I put that lightsaber again?
Grace & peace,
*"quotidian" is a fancy, churchy way of saying "daily." Never ask a theologian to use simple English when Latin will do the trick even better.