All my life I have walked fast, moved fast and talked fast. That’s just who I am and how I’m wired. I’ve always told people I only have two gears: OFF and FAST. There is no in-between.
I know other people don’t always appreciate that. I remember when I was in college, I worked part-time in the office of my dorm putting up mail and other minor chores. One day the dorm Mom and I were putting the mail in residents’ boxes, when all of a sudden she yelled, “STOP!” When I asked her what was wrong, she said, “You’ve got to slow down. You’re going so fast it’s making me nervous.” (Oops! I tried to go slower but it wasn’t easy.)
However, this past week I had three lessons about the importance of slowing down. I think they are worth sharing.
The first lesson happened last Saturday when I broke my little toe! I was barefoot and walking quickly across the living room when I caught my toe on the wooden leg of the footstool. I knew instantly that I had broken my toe. It was definitely bending in a direction it wasn’t suppose to go.
So, I taped it and iced it and now I’m limited to certain shoes I can actually walk in. And, yes, I’m walking more slowly. “Why was I barefoot? I don’t know, because I seldom ever walk around barefoot. But that’s not the lesson.”
The lesson is that there really is no need to walk that fast just to pick up something I’ve left in the other room. If I miss a phone call they’ll either call me back or I can call them back. I just have to learn to walk, NOT run!
Lesson number two comes from a video of Sheila Heen, a speaker at Willow Creek’s Leadership Summit this summer. I wasn’t able to go this year but I did see a video of her presentation at another meeting on Saturday.
Near the end of her presentation she told the story of a study that was done on a college campus recently. A group of students were told that they were to present a speech at a meeting across campus, and they had only had five minutes to prepare. As they were going to the other building they passed a person who was in need of help. (I’m not sure if they were hurt or upset, but their need was obvious and “Yes” they had been deliberately placed there.)
Wanna guess how many of those students stopped to help? Only 10%. They did this a second time with another group but told them they had 20 minutes to prepare and get to the lecture hall. This time 50% stopped to help.
The lesson is this. When we are in too much of a hurry we often aren’t aware of the needs that are right around us. But, if we slow down and take a little more time, we are more likely to recognize the needs around us and act on them.
And, finally, lesson three. Earlier last week I was reading J. I. Packer’s book “Keep in Step with the Spirit.” We are studying the Holy Spirit in our Community Group this fall and Packer has some very insightful things to say about the Holy Spirit.
One of the things he says in the introduction is that our society, which includes our churches, has high expectations for people to be very active. Lots of activity is often seen as a demonstration of our commitment to a cause. For Christians, we often equate our activity level as indicative of our closely we are following the “leading of the Spirit.” Packer believes, and I agree with him, that focusing on activity is not a barometer of how close we are to the Holy Spirit. In fact, it usually prevents us from being aware of His presence. We are just too busy to listen and we don’t see what He is trying to tell us.
That connection came to me this morning as I was telling a very good friend of mine the story of the college students. The rest of that story is that these weren’t just any college students. They were students who were studying theology as they prepared for the ministry. And the 5 minute talk they were to give was on “The Good Samaritan.”
Hmmm? Makes you think, doesn’t it.