Setting Down The Clipboard
A few years ago, a lady who attended our church would always engage me in conversation. She had a very sweet demeanor and would always ask about my family: my parents, siblings, nephews with special needs. She seemed to always remember what was going on in their lives.
She thought about children’s ministry often and would want to volunteer, but it never seemed to work out. She brought in donations here and there, and one particular Sunday brought me three cans of infant formula. I passed them on as I could, but one remaining can sat in my office with a handwritten note from her on top.
Then one day I got an e-mail saying she had a stroke. Within a week she passed away. For a long time I couldn’t bring myself to throw away the expired can of formula.
It seemed like every time this woman wanted to engage me in conversation, it was—in my mind—the worst possible time. I had things to do; I had kids to take care of; I had classrooms to get ready. And for some reason, I always had this thought in the back of my head when talking to her: I have things to do. I could be doing something else, something more important.
I don’t actually use a clipboard on a regular basis. I’m not sure if you do, but whether it is a clipboard, a to-do list, or a smartphone with calendar reminders, some sort of agenda gets us leaders through each day. Being a task-oriented person, you will rarely find “casually talking with a church member” written on my to-do list.
This is the reality for many of us task-oriented leaders. Having a to-do list to tackle can, at times, seem more important than listening to someone. Accomplishing our agenda for the day can trump investing in another’s life. We struggle with sticking to our schedules and our time tables and forget about connecting with the very people we are called to serve.
As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
“Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”
Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him (Matthew 20:29–34, emphasis mine).
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly (Luke 19:1–6, emphasis mine).
This is my prayer for myself and for each one of us. That we, like Jesus, would stop. That we would look up from our clipboards, to-do lists, and phones to really see others as Christ sees them.
That can of expired formula sat in my office for many months. It served as a gentle, daily reminder for me to see others as Jesus sees them: deeply loved, deeply valued, and deeply worthy of being seen.