I do a lot of thinking, reading, and writing. It’s what I do. I need to focus (and being ADD that can be really hard, even when I’m on my meds). And so, there are times when I get into a groove and just get flying and then something happens. I get interrupted. It’s the little things that interrupt and it’s the big things too.
When sermonating or reading at my office, I get phone calls, I get people stopping by, or I wind up gabbing for a half hour with our awesome secretary. When I’m doing work at a coffee shop I wind up gabbing with the barista for a little while, or chatting with someone I know or even sometimes just met. And if I try (note try) to work from home, my kiddos want my attention, my lovely wife might want me to aid her in something, or I just get distracted along the way. I get interrupted.
So, yesterday I did something different. I went to the local library to get some work done.
I found a table way in the back of the library near the periodicals and got to work (no outlets near by to plug in my computer though, luckily I had like 5 1/2 hours of battery life). I got done in two hours more than I had in the week. I was in the groove. I was working and getting stuff done. After two hours, I realized that I was pretty much done and headed home.
But it felt weird. It felt odd. I hadn’t been interrupted. And that just didn’t feel right to me. I didn’t talk to anyone, yes, and so my work was done, yes. But it didn’t feel like I really did what I should have done. It didn’t feel like I really accomplished something.
As I reflected on this, I began to realize why: In ministry, you need to be interrupted. Being interrupted’s part of doing God’s work. Jesus was interrupted all the time. You read about how he stopped and had compassion on the people. You read how he stopped in a crowd to heal a blind mine. He stopped to heal 10 men with leprosy. No matter how busy or pressing things were, he stopped. He was interrupted.
My favorite time he was interrupted is in Mark 5.
Jairus’ daughter is sick. He’s a leader in the community. Jairus comes to Jesus desperate to have him heal his daughter. In the huge crowd, Jesus is being pressed on by people on all sides. Jesus agrees to go with Jarius. As they are going, a woman who had been sick from bleeding for 12 years stoops down and touches the edge of Jesus’ cloak. Jesus immediately stopped. He asked who touched him because he knew exactly what happened.
This was a desperate plea by Jairus. This was a life or death situation. And Jesus still allowed himself to be interrupted to be present for someone. The woman was healed as soon as she touched Jesus’ cloak. She came forward and admitted that she touched his cloak. Jesus took time as he was interrupted to be present for this woman. He gave her what she needed. His attention and the forgiveness of God.
By this time, Jairus received word that his daughter had died. It was too late now. If only Jesus hadn’t allowed himself to be interrupted, then his daughter might have lived. Yet, there’s more to this than just that. Something greater was going to happen. If Jesus hadn’t allowed himself to be interrupted, then Jairus wouldn’t be able to witness something more amazing than his original request.
Jesus goes to Jairus’ daughter and brings her back to life. This isn’t a simple healing, this is life giving. Because Jesus was interrupted, something greater happened. Life was restored. More than just healing happened. New life happened.
So, when I’m sermonating, when I’m doing my work, I gladly allow myself to be interrupted. I always remind myself that it is relationships over accomplishments. People matter more than how good my sermon is that Sunday morning. People matter more than how much reading I get done.
Jesus was about people. He built relationships with people as he walked with them. I try to do the same.
I am gladly interrupted so that I may give my full attention to someone because they deserve it. Relationships will always trump accomplishments any day for me.