We live in a culture that knows little about being fully present, or even appreciates the stillness of complete focus. Data overload has become the norm of today's culture. We multi-task all the time! Walking and texting. Driving and listening to music. Doing homework while watching TV, checking your facebook, messaging your friends, checking email, skyping, and "stumbling" for new websites that we might find interesting. We do too much. We hurry. We can't do one thing at a time. We call it efficient. But it takes a toll.
Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone who's phone was incessantly buzzing? And even if they didn't pick it up right away, you knew because you could see it, suddenly you did not have their full attention. They glance down at their phone, nodding, even smiling, laughing and commenting back. But then their sentence trails off. The conversation stops, they cease interacting and they dissapear for a moment into that little screen. That little buzz, bing, chime or ring has the power to draw attention away from face-to-face, heart-to-heart interaction, for a data exchange.
The other day I had an unexpected opportunity to interact with one of the great women of influence in this country: Lisa Bevere. I have been admiring her and her husband's ministry Messenger International for years now. When I was a student at Hillsong International Leadership College we were blessed with being at church that believed that resourcing the Body of Christ is the best possible way to go, and they made sure to fly in world-class teachers, pastors and prophets to inspire us of all the amazing things God is doing on the Earth. In 2005, Lisa came to Colour Your World in Sydney and as a student volunteer, I was afforded a few brief minutes of rest, and got to listen to her session. The things she said during that session stirred my heart in ways that are difficult to describe, I am an answer, not a problem. And from then on I have followed her ministry from a distance.
Years later, at another women's event, I have now had the opportunity to meet her and here are a few things that struck me about that interaction.
First off, she was swarmed by women who wanted to interact with her. At least 75 women (probably more) gathered around her on all sides hoping to meet her, tell her about the impact her words have had on their lives, and get a photo with her. And she took time. She took time with every one of those girls. She graciously gave each person a few minutes to talk and interact, when, in my view, she probably could have signed the book and been on her way. That invested time communicated value to each person she talked to: "You matter, I care, you are loved."
The second thing I noticed is her intentional touch of every person she met. Meeting "famous" people can be an intimidating situation. What do you say? How do you act? Why should they care? The distance of separation often seems so great that we, without thinking about it, become insecure about interacting with certain people. So when Lisa reached out and touched, grabbed your hand, gave you a hug, put her arm on your shoulder, it broke down the distance. Suddenly she was relateable. You are her long lost friend that she's never met, but missed you terribly. You kind of think that maybe you have her phone number and could call her up for coffee because you get along so well. Just like she has mattered to you, you matter to her.
Third, she made eye contact. None of this, "I'm partially focused on what we're talking about but needing to hurry up and get done talking with you so I can get to these other people" kind of sense at all. Looking you straight in the eyes she wants to know your name, who you are, what's going on.. Again, VALUE.
And finally she spoke life. When I met her, I experienced all of the above, but also something much richer. She prophesied into the destiny that God has for me. She heard heaven and released what I needed to hear right in that moment. She said that I was needed, that she (an other leaders like her) are unafraid of the dreams that God has put into my heart, that I have been waited for and watched over.. That they are ready for me to take my place along side them serving Jesus and leading others into His Presence. Not only did I matter, but I am a teammate in the building of the Kingdom of God here on Earth. And I needed to hear it.
By Lisa being fully present, I was reminded of a lot of things. That my words and actions convey value or lack of value in a human being. That if I will take TIME, be fully present, interact, draw people close and listen to heaven as I love on them, that maybe, just maybe, a destiny defining God moment could happen and someone's life could be changed. And it's the same with you. If we will slow down. Allow ourselves to disconnect from our communication devices (computers, tv, whatever!) and make a choice to be here, right now, totally focused on the people in our world we could be used as a mouth piece of God, releasing His plans, His destiny, His desire for them and watch the world change. How great would that be?
Looking around, being in a hurry, glancing at your watch, nodding and then "ok that's great" with a moving on sort of tone, all convey to the people around us that they don't matter.