In these weeks leading up to Easter, I’ve been trying to get to know Jesus better and have been closely examining different aspects of His character. Jesus has a lot of qualities that you would expect to find in the savior of the world: He can perform miracles and heal the sick. He is also kind and forgiving beyond human, or at least beyond my capabilities. But I think Jesus also has some other characteristics that are less obvious, but no less important. In this blog I want to look at one specific character trait of Jesus that I think we would all benefit from imitating in our own lives, especially in today’s go, go, go world.
Today we are going to take a look at interrupted Jesus. The word interrupted in and of itself is annoying. If you think about it, we have very few pleasant interruptions in our lives. They are by their very nature a break in our progress. They are interference in what we have planned. And they happen all the time. I don’t know about you but I even bristle at the word “interruption.”
I was at staff meeting this last week and I asked my friends to give me some phrases that when they hear them they know that their life is about to be interrupted. Picture this: You’re just home from a hard day, you’re relaxing on the couch, you’ve just started your favorite TV show and you hear these words:
- “Dad! The wifi’s not working.”
- “Mom, where’s my (FILL IN WITH IMPORTANT ITEM HERE).”
- “This is Miramar Ranch Elementary, is Mr. Hildebrand there?”
- “Dad, there’s a light flashing on the dashboard.”
- “This is American Express. Can you verify these charges?”
- “Mom, I just threw up in my bed.”
- “Honey, are you going to sleep through all of this?”
- “Dad! Brooke just fell through the trampoline!” (that’s my favorite).
Two weeks ago I was at work when I got this call. “Jack, there is a lizard in the house.” By the time I got home my wife had lost track of where the lizard was. So now I’m playing reptile hide-and-seek. After about a half hour of looking, still no lizard. Definitely an interruption. In case you are wondering, we did eventually find the lizard. That night, my daughter put one her jacket and the lizard crawled out of the jacket, leapt to the ground and fled for safety.
You were on your way from here to there; your plan was set; your to-do list in order; your calendar all laid out, your schedule was set, then you got the call, the email came, the voice from upstairs called for help, the text message alert bings, the kid whines, actuallly, the husband whines. Interruption. Interruption. Interruption.
Interruptions, for the most part, are annoying. They are simply a delay in our progress; a postponement of our original plan so it’s understandable that our response usually looks something like this: A groan, an eye roll, an exasperated breath followed by storming off to deal with this so-called emergency. Most of us are not pleased with interruptions. We are bothered, bugged, irritated.
What if I told you that your legacy is determined by those interruptions? That who you are and how you are evaluated and esteemed by others is decided by how you respond to interruptions? I don’t know about you but, if what I’m saying is true, I think I’m in trouble. Anyone with me? If how we are valued by others has to do with how we deal with interruptions, I think we are all up a creek without a paddle and you know what creek I’m talking about. It may or may not be true that we are evaluated by how we deal with interruptions, but it is certainly true of Jesus.
Everything we know about Jesus and his care and his compassion and love for people happened during interruptions. Let me show you what I’m talking about. Look with me at just one chapter in the life of Jesus: Matthew, Chapter 9.
“Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat.”– Matthew 9:1,2
“While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.” –Matthew 9:10
“Then John’s disciples came and asked him, ‘How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?'”– Matthew 9:14
“While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, ‘My daughter has just died.'”– Matthew 9:18
“As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, ‘Have mercy on us, Son of David!'”–Matthew 9:27
“While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke.”– Matthew 9:32,33
“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.”– Matthew 9:35
Interruption. Interruption, Interruption, Interruption
There were 6 specific interruptions in one chapter and that last note says that there were probably hundreds more just like it. Now look with me at verse 36.
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”– Matthew 9:36
Jesus has a reputation for compassion like no other person. Anyone who really takes a good hard look at who He was realizes that he is the most caring, compassionate, and loving person who ever walked the face of this earth. Jesus didn’t get that reputation through his sermons or his parables. That reputation was forged during times like this. He was heading from here to there and along the way he was interrupted and he had compassion. Almost all of the amazing and miraculous events in Jesus life all happened in interrupted space.
I believe that our legacy will be established the same way Jesus’ legacy was established. Our legacy will not be determined by the size of our bank accounts or the positions we held and or our business accomplishments. It will be made in interrupted space.
- Our reputation is made in the moments when we are interrupted by our children.
- Our reputation will be made when we are interrupted by friends.
- Our reputation will be made when we are interrupted by our spouse.
- Our reputation will be made when we are interrupted by people we see in need.
Our legacy is established in interrupted space.
How to Be More Interruptible
There is one problem. Typically, we are at our worst when we are interrupted. We are cranky and irritated and snappy. How can we be at our best? In the time we have remaining let’s look at four characteristics of interruptible people. These are the characteristics of Jesus and qualities we should strive for in our own relationships.
1. Interruptible People Have a Different View of Success
Most people would consider Jesus a success. More books have been written in his name, more hospitals founded, and more hungry people fed. It’s hard to debate Jesus’ success. But how he went about his success was the polar opposite of how we go about success. We consider Jesus a success because he was an interruptible person. But today, a successful person is anything but interruptible. They are busy. We have to schedule appointments with them. We are lucky for a few minutes of their time. They say things like this: “Mrs. Gammelgard, I’m busy. No calls, no interruptions.” At least that’s what the successful people sound like in every Lifetime movie I’ve ever watched. “No interruptions please,” with a gruff emphasis on the word please.
Jesus was opposite. He seemed to wander around waiting for the interruptions. He was always interruptible. He was going from here to there on the most important mission in history, but his view of success was different. To him success wasn’t the to-do list or the accomplishment. It was the people he was walking through life with. Having time with them was success. Maybe we need to change how we view success.
Bob Goff put it like this. “I may not be the smartest person in the room but I will be the most available.” What would happen if we were people like that? I wonder what kind of impact we would make?
2. Interruptible People Place a High Value on the People Around Them
Think about this for a moment. Who are the people that we allow to interrupt us? It’s the people that we most value. Let me give you an example. Thursday morning is finish-my-message-for-church day. My staff knows to keep out of my office on Thursdays, with one notable exception–my wife. She doesn’t care what I’m doing. Thursday morning message writing means nothing to her. In fact, I think she comes into my office on Thursdays just because she can. And that’s okay. My wife has that privilege because of her value in my life. The people of value have that kind of privilege. I was getting ready to speak last week and my iPad started ringing. I was standing by the door so I hustled out of the room to silence it and realized it was a FaceTime call from my son from Boston. Even though I was one song away from going on, I took the call because I value hearing from him at any time, even the most inconvenient times.
We allow the people we value to interrupt us. With us, that’s a small group of people. With Jesus it was everyone. Actually, to be more accurate, it was the dregs of society. It was people who had been pushed out because of injury or illness or their position in society. Jesus was interrupted by a woman caught in sin, men who were renowned as thieves, lepers who were banished to colonies. Jesus allowed himself to be interrupted by these people because he valued them. Maybe we need to raise the value of our interrupters. Maybe we should value more people, not just a few key people, in our lives.
3. Interruptible People Are in The Moment
I want to talk for a moment about one simple way that we can value people more. All you have to do is value that little computer that you carry in your pocket or in your purse less. That’s right, I’m talking about your cell phone. Let me give you a couple scenarios and you tell me what they have to say about the value we place on people. Okay, first scenario: You walk up to a friend and begin a conversation and as you do that friend takes their cell phone and places it face down and gives you their full attention. What happened in that moment? You were valued. You were more important than calls or texts or emails. They were in the moment with you. Next scenario: Let’s say you walk up to a friend and you begin a conversation and in the middle of that conversation the phone rings and he says, “Just one second” and picks up his phone. What did he just do in that moment? He devalued you. Whoever was on the other end of that phone was more important to you.
It’s funny, as a people we do not like to be interrupted. An interruption is typically an annoying thing. But as a people, we have allowed ourselves to be the most interrupted group of people in the history of the world. Most of the time technology that’s supposed to make our lives better is to blame: cell phones, computers, iPads. Interruptible people don’t let phone calls and texts and emails keep them from valuing the people in their lives. They are in the moment with the people who are right there.
4. Interruptible People Have Margin in Their Lives
Being interruptible really is just a matter of time. Usually we can’t be interrupted because our schedule is too busy and we have too many meetings and a deadline is bearing down on us. If we can’t be interrupted, its because we’ve run out of time.
What if we just made this one decision: we are going to show up a little early and stay a little late? What if instead of running into the meeting and hurrying off from the soccer practice, we just decided to allow time to be interrupted? What if we said we are going to make time for those relationships? Honestly, I could write several posts on creating margin in our lives, but the bottom line is that if we realize that God works in the interruptible moments, we would create time for them. The amazing and miraculous moments in Jesus’ life were all interruptions.
Let’s look back at that one chapter in Matthew. In that one chapter a paralyzed man walked, two blind men were given their sight, a man who had never been able to talk spoke for the first time and a dead girl was raised back to life. I’m not saying that you will be given the power to heal if you are interruptible, but I am saying that if you have margin in your life and you take the time to notice the moments, something beautiful will happen in that space.
My wife and I have a new child so I’ve made the decision to try and be home as many afternoons as I can. Honestly, I just don’t want to miss anything. One afternoon I went home and my two daughters were there. My new daughter is in middle school choir and got a new choir song. My other daughter plays guitar. Watching them practice that new song together was one of the most beautiful moments in my life and that moment only happened because I allowed myself the margin to be there. I was able to be in the moment. I carved out margin and I was able to be with my kids and God did something amazing.
What Kind of Legacy Are Your Creating?
There are a lot of ways that you can create a legacy. You can create a business legacy and a financial legacy and an athletic legacy and a legacy of accomplishments. But if you want to create a legacy of care and compassion and love, you and I need to learn to be interruptible. I know its not easy but let’s start today. Today let’s try to be more interruptible.