My son and I like to play chess. Neither one of us is very good, but it’s still fun. To be successful in chess you have to think two or three moves ahead. This is a great strategy for chess, but a terrible one for life, in many instances. It’s even worse in ministry. Unfortunately, this is how many of us operate. In ministry we are sometimes even worse about this than others. I would encourage you instead to BE IN THE MOMENT.
Multitasking is a myth. There is much talk about multitasking. Women are all convinced that they are born masters of it and that men are incapable of it. The truth is there is no such thing as multitasking. This is not just my opinion; there have been multiple studies that show this to be true. If you think about it, you only have one set of hands and one brain. Yes, I understand that our brains are impossibly complex and capable of incredible things. But, while your mind may be able to do more than one thing at a time, you can only REALLY focus on one thing at a time.
Focus on what you’re doing. You may think that you are getting more done, or being more efficient by working on more than one thing at a time. The truth is you’re not giving anything your full attention and, therefore, not giving any of it your best. Set aside the other stuff your working on. Determine what has to be done NOW. Then focus on that. The results will be much better and, chances are, you will actually finish that thing quicker and be able to move on to the next.
Focus on WHO you are talking to. Unfortunately, our mental chess game can often extend to people as well. If you are in ministry then Sunday morning is go time. For me that means I have about a million things on my mind. So, when someone comes up to me to talk, my mind tends to wonder. While I’m “listening” my mind is already on the next thing I have to do or the next few things. The result is that I am not actually listening. I may be able to hear the conversation and may even walk away from it with a pretty good idea of what was said, but I am not truly listening. They will probably notice. If they do, then you have probably just lost the confidence of that person. You may have a desire to minister to them, but your lack of focus could have damaged that potential.
Stop thinking about what to say next. Perhaps your not thinking of the things you have to do, but there’s a good chance that you are thinking about what you are going to say next. Often times with the first few words that a person speaks we are already thinking about what we are going to say. Stop doing that. In that moment when you begin to formulate your reply you have stopped listening. Maybe the person talking just needs someone to talk to, not an answer. Maybe they are trying to work something out and just need a sounding board. Whatever the case, if you are thinking about what you are about to say, then you have stopped listening.
It isn’t easy. Oh, it’s real easy for me to write these things, but it is not easy for us to do them. My desk and office are evidence to the difficulty I have in finishing one thing before moving on to the next. In ministry and in life we often have multiple projects going on at once. This is a must. However, we have to learn to focus on one while we are working on it. Then move on to the next. The benefits really are worth it. Give these things some thoughts. Think about it as you go through your day or week. Then, see what you can do to help yourself BE IN THE MOMENT.Matt Norman
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