One of the greatest gifts we can give to anyone is the gift of being "fully present."
You know the "fully present" person. He makes you feel like talking to you is the single-most important thing he could be doing right now. She makes you feel like everything you say is interesting. You feel heard. You feel valued. You feel... loved?
You know the other people, too. You're talking and they're glancing around. You're asking for input, and they make you repeat the question. They're looking at their watch, waiting for the next thing. Or they're nodding their heads, waiting for you to be quiet so they can make their point.
All too often, I'm one of the other people - I'm the one looking around, checking my watch, nodding my head, waiting for you to leave. I'm task-oriented, not people-oriented. And I've used that as an excuse long enough.
Last summer, we had a guy come over and give us a bid on sodding our front yard. I was the one at home taking care of my son. And the guy asks, "you got the babysitting duty today, huh?" I said, "yeah, I get to hang out with him in the afternoons."
The more I thought about what he had asked, the more rankled I got. I really should have blasted him: "I'm not babysitting. I'm fathering. I'm being a dad. I'm doing the single-most important thing I could be doing right now - spending meaningful time with my son. It's my singular focus to pass on my beliefs and values to the next generation, to help my son grow up into a mature, responsible, productive, godly man!"
But I didn't say any of those things. I only thought them later...
But over the last few months, I have come to realize that I have not been as "fully present" as I would like to be for my son. I have not been so fully engaged in the "single-most important thing I should be doing right now."
Too often, I'm content to plunk him down in front of the TV to watch Praise Baby! or Muzzy auf Deutsch (hey, they're inspirational and educational, right?). Or I'll spend an afternoon surfing the web (or writing this blog), hoping he doesn't bother me too much or require a great deal of my attention. He comes over to play, and I catch myself shrugging him off...
But I want to be "fully present." I don't want to be the (physically present) absentee father. I don't want to be another parenting statistic. So I've resolved to blog only when he's napping. I've decided to keep a @Play list of ideas for meaningful things we could do together.
How do you intentionally make yourself "fully present" for your kids?
Welcome to Juggling Sheep, Jay Perry's blog about time management and personal productivity for pastors. Learn to balance work, life, family, and personal spirituality.
Share your best practices, tips and tricks, processes, sermon planning ideas, and resources. Feel free to email me: jaylperry[at]gmail[dot]com.