iPhone Present

11 02 2011

For the past year and a half I have had the pleasure of owning an iPhone 3G S while my wife carried around a Nokia Brick. Ok, her phone wasn’t that old but it definitely had it’s moments. The little ball on the front wouldn’t really work, the screen would freeze constantly, and it didn’t really like making phone calls or receiving text messages. It got so bad that I sent an e-mail out to our entire staff and asked if anyone had any old AT&T phones she could use (yeah, we don’t have service either). She had a replacement Blackberry for a while but it didn’t really do the trick.

Well, just this last week while we were visiting friends and family down in San Diego Amanda decided it was her time for an upgrade. That’s right, she bought an iPhone. She knows how competitive I am so she decided to go with the same model I have instead of one upping me. Actually, the 4G cost about $100 more but I like to think I was the focus of all her thoughts during this particular purchase.

We had planned to spend some time with her family before we left and as were sitting there talking I noticed something. Amanda was really quiet. Now, this comes as no surprise to those of you who know my wife, but she’s usually extremely talkative around her family. Not today. She was so locked in to her phone that she didn’t even know what was going on around her. I guess we could call this “being iPhone present”.

I’ve written before (read it here) about how the faults we see in others are really the faults we see in ourselves, and I’m not saying my wife has any faults (don’t want to come home to that train wreck… “hey honey, i read your blog post today…”), but this was one of the first times I noticed my wife not being fully present with someone as she talked to them. Her intentional presence with people is one of her strongest qualities and it’s something I wish I was better at. I can’t really blame her because come on, she just got a brand new iPhone, but I learned why it bugs her so much when I’m not fully present with her.

I’m horrible at this. I feel like I’m the king of “being iPhone present”. I always have my phone out and have a very difficult time giving others my full attention. When I don’t give people my undivided attention I know I’m communicating a few different things to them:

1) You’re boring. If you can’t hold my interest for a couple minutes then I’m moving on to something else. When I do this I’m showing people how selfish I am.  If you’re guilty of this some people will try and do or say things to gain your acceptance, while others shut down and write you off as a rude person that doesn’t have anything to offer.

2) You’re not as important as whatever is happening on my phone. People matter and ministry flows through relationships. When we invest more time into our phone then the people we are leading, counseling, or investing in then we’ve told them they don’t matter. We might as well put a little note on the back of our phones saying “I don’t care about you.”

3) I’m better than you. Not only are we telling people they’re boring and unimportant, but essentially we are communicating a sense of superiority over them when we don’t listen. I hope I’m not arrogant enough to think that God can not or will not teach something through a conversation with someone else no matter who it is.

Leaders need to be fully present with those they are leading. If we don’t know them how are we going to direct them? I’m sure I’ll get back from a mission trip or something in the near future and be even more disgusted with myself and this struggle, but for now I will work towards being truly present with those I come in contact with throughout my day.

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