Be Present

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”—Romans 12:10 (NIV)

Technology is a wonderful thing. Televisions, phones, tablets, smart watches, laptops . . . they all serve a purpose. When operating in their proper context and time, they can be useful, helpful tools that make life easier. Imagine trying to drive places today without your trusty GPS or trying to capture family memories without your phone’s camera.

Technological advancements have made our lives easier in many ways, but various studies have begun to show drawbacks to our screen dependence. Things like social skills, nonverbal cues, attention span, and conversation aptitude have suffered greatly.

We’re more connected than ever today, but we’re also more disconnected than ever. Just spend one day people watching. What you’re likely to see is people near each other physically but not engaging with one another. You’ll see groups of people staring at a screen instead of doing life together, friends and families around the dinner table texting, tweeting, and tumbling—but not talking to one another.

So often we’re not really present in our relationships. Sadly, we don’t give our spouse, kids, friends, etc. our full attention; we don’t devote ourselves to them in love or honor them above ourselves. Many times, we’re not actually listening and engaging, we’re just waiting for our turn to talk. Or, we’re too busy to spend time with the people who truly matter because we took on that extra client or project. Our time, our stories, our opinions, our phones, and our jobs take priority. We’re too busy!

This is the opposite of gospel generosity. This is contrary to what we were created for, what God wants for us, and what Jesus showed us by His example. We’ve become so self-absorbed that even our family, our siblings, our spouse, kids, and closest friends have taken a back seat to any number of temporal things. It even happens in churches, with pastors and ministry workers becoming so consumed by the work of ministry that their own family relationships—the most important ministry the Lord entrusts them with—are sacrificed.

Consider the example of Christ in the Gospels. Our Lord spent three years with His disciples, daily pouring into them, being present in relationship with them, intentionally building them up, teaching them, guiding them, and empowering them. He also took time to be with people, to experience relationships and change the lives of the people He encountered, people like Nicodemus, Zaccheus, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, and many others. He was always present, always engaged, and always intentional.

How can we be present? How can we honor and devote ourselves to the people God has put in our lives? Here are a few simple things you can do starting today:

  • At dinner time, have family members drop their phones, tablets, and smart watches into a tech basket. For that hour, engage in intentional conversation. 
  • A half-hour before bed, turn off the TV and phones and pray together with your family.
  • Commit to not taking work home with you. Do your best to finish what you can at the office and then disconnect when you leave.
  • Don’t take on too many outside projects or freelance jobs if they begin to interfere with your relationships.
  • Set aside one day per month to disconnect and spend time with your friends and loved ones. Go to the park, take in a ballgame, enjoy a day at the beach or pool, play board games, or do a Bible study together.

Today we leave you with this thought: “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6). Apply this principle to your relationships! When you sow generously, the fruit of joy and fulfillment you receive from these relationships will be worth the intentionality.

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