The statement that a desk is a not so good place from which to observe the world is credited to John le Carre. This a pen name of a British author of espionage novels. In my traveling about I had heard it attributed to a preacher. It is advice that I still give to young pastors. The technological age has brought us many advantages, so many in fact that they are hard to put in a single list. I like computers, iPads, smart phones, kindles, kindle fires, apps, these streaming everything all of time events and video on demand. See, I told you that I could not put it all on a single list, already I am thinking of many valuable things I left off the list.
With all of the productivity producing helps available to us, why is it that so much time seems to be wasted? One can start to surf the web for one piece of information and be transfixed into an internet induced coma, and when you come out of it, 1-3 hours have passed and all you have to show for it is some crushed imaginary candy, destroyed buildings, and a flock of angry birds. No this is not a post about going back to the pencil and legal pad. Technology is here and on the whole has many positive attributes. Because I spent my adult life mostly as a pastor, I have a particular view-point. People are not interruptions. Every generation has felt chained to a desk or a work station. One more sermon or report to write, one more call to make, one more meeting to squeeze in, and on it goes. Allow me to make a couple of observations.
1 People matter. They matter to God, therefore they have to matter to me
2 People are not computers. About the only thing that people and computers have in common is that they both sometimes carry viruses. As tough as a new app is to learn and figure out, people are even more difficult to figure out. People have families, a history, problems which they still have not solved. They need time and patience and lots of grace.
3 People are messy. Life is messy, everyone you meet has a problem or a concern. Everyone really needs a listening ear. Can I be a listening ear?
4 People will not usually be found hanging around the office. There are some who do, but that will be an entirely different article to write. For most people you have to go and find them. For years the church operated with the idea, that the people will come to us, but now we are learning that we must go to them.
5 People will give you perspective. It is hard to talk or preach on suffering the same way, once you have encountered a suffering saint. It is harder to preach the same way about poverty, once you have interacted with poor folks. You can’t think the same about any one experiencing loss, once you have lost. Most of the applications of our the lives did not take place at a desk. Oh, we learned and found new knowledge there, but transformation usually happens outside of office hours.
Let me finish as I started. How about pushing the chair away, and get out of the office…..you know it really is a dangerous place from which to see the world.