We were barely seated in the restaurant and I had just laid my napkin across my lap. I looked up and smiled at the tops of five bowed heads. My privilege this day was to take the band, [a.k.a. music leaders, a.k.a. “worship team”] to lunch. You may think that all five had bent their heads in prayer. Not so much. Instead, each guy had his mobile device in hand and was either reading or thumbing a message.
Now, I assumed that they were “checking-in” or making straight their schedules for the afternoon. But I waited, and as waiter worked to find out what we would be drinking, the texting/tweeting/thumbing continued. There were peeks up and a clumsy sort of reconnecting to conversation. I was trying to get to know them and create rapport at our table. Oddly enough, throughout lunch, the devices remained at the ready; short vibrations caused the owner to give a glance, often accompanied by a grin. Around the table the fork was intermittently laid aside these young, deft fingers sent out a quick message. It was all very natural and normal for this bunch; I was the only person who was having trouble engaging. I guess I’m addicted to a bit more eye-contact. They proved to be gifted at multi-tasking; they could eat, jab at one another, answer questions I tossed onto the table, and maintain allegiance to their cell phones. I was both impressed and depressed.
Woody Allen, that great philosopher once said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”
I’ve always liked that one-liner from Allen. My personal application is the importance of BEING THERE. How much of life and opportunity have we wished away simply because our mind it somewhere else? I spent too much of my childhood wanting to be a grown up, and I’ve spent too much of my adulthood wishing I was a child again. I’ve worked on self-discipline of mind — Be Where You Are. (After all, we are human-beings, not human-doings.)
I wish I could say that I’m such a perfect person, so much without sin that I don’t commit an occasional breach of cell phone etiquette. I have loving family members who have corrected me when tempted to disengage because I have my device out and am checking email, texts, tweets, and anything else available from the outside world. I work at device discipline and etiquette.
I think Jesus would have been great with the use of his iPhone. In fact, I think He we be perfect. If there is one tremendous value that Jesus exemplified, it is the importance of respecting people in His presence. Do you remember the story of the sisters, Mary and Martha? (see Luke 10:38-42) They invited Jesus to come to their house for a meal. He accepted the invitation. Martha went to work immediately. Martha became obsessed with meal preparation and all the details surrounding a visit from her famous guest. Meanwhile, Mary was mover concerned with spending time with Jesus, sitting at His feet, and soaking in His presence.
Finally, Martha snapped! She got Jesus’ attention and I include my own whiny infection in her voice. “Jesus, would you please tell Mary to come to the kitchen and help me, I’m stuck with all the work.”
“Look at Mary sitting here calmly enjoying my company. She has chosen the better thing, and I will not make her leave Me.”
Are you choosing the better thing? I don’t always choose the better, but I am learning more in that direction every day.
Oh, and by the way… I’ve noticed that I am getting older and a bit more crotchety, which means I can speak my mind and blame it on achy joints. So be warned, if you are talking to me and dare to continue to hold your cell phone in hand, about the third time you glance at it I may just suggest some alternative activities you can do with your device. Don’t blame me, the weather is changing.