Being There

Have you ever wanted to be in two places at one time? Or even three places? Most of us who serve in leadership positions feel that way a lot. Multiple demands, opportunities, and emergencies create the need to choose which one we will handle at that time. And which ones we will let go. We all feel the need to “be there”, along with the disappointment when we can’t. This is especially true for church leaders who work full-time outside the church – many of us laity.

Recently Bishop Schnase visited my home church in Stockton. He had an inspired, meaningful message about sheep “nibbling their way lost” and our calling to go find them – or so I heard. You see, I experienced one of those schedule conflicts and was not able to be there. But I heard from several people who said it was really good. And I did listen to his sermon on our church’s website. Good, but it’s not the same as being there. I missed it.

You know the feeling. That sense of over-commitment and tension when you have to say “No” to a really good event / meeting because it conflicts with a prior commitment. And the sense of missing something special, even if it was unavoidable.

As I look back over the years and countless schedule conflicts, I’m thankful for the times I was able to be there – special times with my wife Kim, countless memories of our 3 children growing up, special choir cantatas, customer visits, going hunting, fishing, or golfing with my Dad, etc. And many of the church meetings I’ve attended were very helpful. There’s just no substitute for being there. Did I miss anything along the way? Certainly.

I know that there will be many more conflicts ahead, and I pray that God will guide my thinking and focus my attention upon the things that are most important – that really require my being there and not someone else.

Scripture provides helpful guidelines for making choices when schedule conflicts arise. I recall noting many years ago Matthew 6:33, where Jesus says “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Seek FIRST God’s kingdom. I’ve got to admit that I don’t always do that well.

John Wesley had some advice on being a good steward of time, and his model of discipline is amazing. And the apostle Paul, agonizing over his inability to “be there”, wrote instructional letters that still inspire us today. Leaders have always struggled with schedule conflicts.

OK, so the next time I want to “be there” in two or three places, I’ll remember Jesus’ words to seek first God’s kingdom and what that means for my priorities. Easier said than done. So I pray that God will clear my thoughts and focus to His greater purpose anyway, taking care of things whether I’m there or not.

Blessings and Peace to YOU in leading through multiple demands. And THANKS for all you do to “Be There” for those who count on you!