I’m a classic type A personality.
Most of the time this serves me quite well. Take, for example, the last two weeks when, in addition, to the holidays, travel, and working, I’ve also had an article and curriculum due, and I’ve started grad school. Being “Type A” allows me to write a “to-do” list and take pleasure in checking things off once I’ve completed them. In highly stressful times, being “Type A” enables me to accomplish all that I need to do.
The problem is that sometimes, in my quest to complete things with excellence, I forget about WHY I’m doing WHAT I’m doing. I forget that being in relationships with people is always more important than having the perfect program, finishing a newsletter or calendar, submitting an article on time, or even getting an A on a paper.
Relationships are what enable me to love kids. Hopefully, these relationships enable kids to experience the reality of Christ’s love in a tangible way and to draw closer to Him as a result. Despite deeply believing this, twice in the last two weeks, my type A personality has gotten the best of me and I almost forgot this.
My first rude awakening was last week, when one of my students landed in the hospital with a broken nose and several compression fractures after attempting to sled in the dark. The day I found out, I was knee-deep in end of the year finances, calendars, and curriculum writing and when I got the call, I almost ignored it. I almost said, “I don’t have time to see Jennifer today because I’ve got way too much else to do!”
Thankfully, I didn’t. I called Jennifer’s mom and listened as she tearfully told me about the accident and then I stopped at the hospital and spent time with Jennifer and her dad. The whole thing took maybe an hour and in truth, it was the best, most productive hour of my day. It was an hour that God used in that moment with Jennifer and her family & that I believe God will continue to use in the future.
Despite that, the same thing happened again this week. I was having a super stressful day – meetings, planning for our upcoming retreat, and writing a grad school paper. I had already had one two hour meeting with an adult leader and had scheduled a one-on-one with one of the girls on my Student Leadership Team. Because I was so eager to complete the other tasks on my “to-do” list, I nearly relegated her to the bottom of it and canceled on her.
Once again, thankfully, I didn’t. Instead, I spent an hour eating cheesy popcorn and drinking hot chocolate with her and listening as she shared her struggle to find God in the midst of repeated crises with her family. Once again, this conversation (which I nearly put off because it was less important than the things on my “to-do” list with a concrete deadline), ended up being the high point of my day; The part of my day when I was most keenly aware of God’s presence.
Sure, God is in the administrative details that I have to take care of on a weekly basis. He’s also in my writing and he’s certainly in this grad school class that I’m taking. But above all, God is in people. Despite how much I love the theoretical, almost academic parts of my job that involve writing, planning, and creating, the reality is that they do no good if they don’t translate into the practical – into how I live my faith with, in, and among those that God has placed in my path.
So today I renew my commitment to always value people more than programs and to stop relegating people to the bottom of my “to-do” list.