Jul 262018 2 Responses

Read My Text Messages for a Day

I’m terrified of failing to return a phone call or text message. One of the great things about modern life is the ease with which we can contact one another, but one of the threats is that we have so many entry points. At any given moment, someone can contact me through one of three email addresses, on my personal FB page, on my business FB page, via instant messenger, or by sending a private message to my public page. They could tweet me or send a direct message. They can call my cell phone, home phone, or office phone. Instagram and Pinterest are also avenues in which they can communicate with me.

Because of all these entry points, it’s easy to make contact but also easy to get lost. So most nights after watching a video and doing some small talk, I review my messages as Silas slowly drifts to sleep. It’s a good way for me to make sure I haven’t dropped the ball on somebody or overlooked an important message. (See: Find the Privilege)

The process is good pastorally. It’s all fun and games until your pastor ignores your phone call. It’s also good personally. People matter, but often times we can get so caught up in the nuts and bolts of running a church or living life that we lose track of people. By ending my day with a review of all the interactions I’ve had throughout the day, I can better focus on the people over the projects.

There is a third aspect of this process which provides a tremendous benefit. At no point in my day am I more likely to feel a deep sense of gratitude like the times in which I’m scrolling through text messages and phone calls. It makes me grateful.

The gratitude isn’t sourced in a comparison game of problems. I don’t lay in bed thinking, “at least I don’t have it that bad.” While the serious problems people face can quickly bring some minor issues into a better perspective, always comparing problems to others is normally not a productive process.

Instead, the gratitude is sourced in the privilege others give me to be part of their lives, the reminder of the brevity of life and the frailty of humanity. If anyone should realize they won’t live forever, it’s the pastor who regularly officiates funerals. If anyone should understand that life can change in a moment, it’s the pastor who daily interacts with people as their lives have been turned upside down.

Granted, it doesn’t always work. I’m just as prone to blowing things out of proportion, losing perspective, and denying the deep realities of life as any other person. The difference is that my work regularly slaps me upside the head to make sure I’m appreciating what is around me.

As I’m reminded of all the people and situations I face, I feel my son’s drool slowly drip onto my shoulder and I recognize what a brief window it is when a father gets to put a son to sleep. I’m grateful to be his dad. I’m reminded of my daughter who is across the hallway going through the same process with her mother and I feel grateful to be her father. I think about Jenny and feel completely inadequate to be her husband but amazingly grateful that she’s chosen to love me. The time reminds me to see the pastorate as a privilege, not a burden, to love people no matter what the issue they might be dealing with. (See: A Simple Trick for Teaching Your Kids Respect and Gratitude)

It’s fascinating how simple yet powerful this exercise is on a regular basis. It doesn’t happen every night, but most nights I feel a deep sense of gratitude because of this one simple practice. Gratitude empowers perseverance, emboldens courage, and enables love. I can’t imagine dealing with this world without nearly daily doses of gratitude.

I lucked into my process. By mere chance, I began a habit so I wouldn’t disappoint people and it had the unintended consequences of bringing much to my life.

You may not luck into your process, but I have no doubt that we all need more gratitude in our lives. We must discover a way where on most days we put things into perspective, gives thanks for what we’ve been given, and feel energized for what the next day holds. This only happens as we create consistent habits which cause us to feel gratitude.

 

2 Responses to Read My Text Messages for a Day
  1. Amy Jones Reply

    What a wonderful way to start my day, this is a good one! Thank you for your great words of wisdom & I’m honored to call you my pastor.

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