Have you ever had someone come to you with a request who said, “This will only take a minute!”? I did it this week to a tradie who came to do a quick little job in our new kitchen at church. My “This will only take a minute” actually worked out to be about an hour of Mark’s valuable time (sorry Mark). I’ve to realise that the expression “This will only take a minute” is code for – “There is no way this could be done in under an hour.” A few weeks ago, the 105.3WayFM General Manager popped into my office and asked, “When you get a few spare minutes, could you knock up some more Godspots for us?” (A Godspot is a one minute radio spot for a Christian radio station that takes about 90 minutes to create.) “A few spare minutes!” I thought to myself. Is this guy kidding? But I think Jim has come to know what most successful people have come to know, that when you want something done, always ask a busy person to do it! (I haven’t done the fifty new spots that he needs yet, but I have managed to “knock up” a few.) When I was a young pastor I was completely unprepared for the number of interruptions that a pastor in a church office had to deal with. I was utterly caught off-guard and wondered how I could ever accomplish all that needed to be done. But then something dramatic happened that changed everything.
A THEOLOGY OF INTERRUPTIONS
As part of study program I undertook a few years ago, which involved taking a course on pastoral time-management, there was a requirement to study how Christ responded to interruptions. What I found in my research was stunning. The majority of Christ’s miracles and profound teaching moments were the result of people interrupting Him. For example, consider the time that Jesus sat down for His dinner and had His meal interrupted—
¶ And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and begged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before Him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And He answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. Matthew 15:21-28
While Jesus was God-incarnate (and therefore fully human), there was at least one emotion that every human experiences that I doubt Jesus ever experienced: surprise. Therefore, each time it appeared Christ was being interrupted or caught off-guard, the reality was: He was never surprised and He was always ready forit! While Christ had the advantage of divine knowledge to anticipate such interruptions, we don’t. But what we can do is treat our interruptions the way Jesus did. It seems that He viewed every ‘interruption’ as an appointment made for Him by His Father. And so can we.
I cannot begin to describe to you how much this realisation revolutionised my life. As I then read through the Gospels I became increasingly aware that Christ stayed on course with His mission even though He was continually interrupted by people wanting something from Him. Some wanted healing. Some wanted to challenge Him. Some wanted Him to settle a family dispute. Some just wanted to get a glimpse of Him and even climbed a tree to get it (which resulted in a spontaneous lunch for Mrs Zacchaeus to prepare. In each instance, Jesus treated the people prompting these interruptions as important and valuable. And as it turned out, each of these interruptions were actually integral to His mission! Therefore, consider that the interruptions (and even disruptions) we all have to deal with, may well be a part of God’s plan for us that are not a distraction away from fulfilling God’s mission and purpose for our lives, but might actually be an integral means of us fulfilling it!
From Luke’s Gospel it is apparent how Jesus managed His time and maintained His mission focus while being regularly being interrupted.
In these days He went out to the mountain to pray, and all night He continued in prayer to God. Luke 6:12
Jesus intentionally spent time alone with His Father away from the crowds. Down through the ages Christians have considered solitude with God a necessary spiritual discipline just as Jesus did.
¶ While He was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before Him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her, and she will live.” And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind Him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her He said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. Matthew 9:18-22
JESUS IS NOW UNINTERRUPTIBLE
As I hope I have briefly demonstrated, Jesus had a knack for being interrupted well. He viewed each of these interruptions as divine appointments which aided Him in His mission. He was, during His days in the flesh, essentially uninterruptible because He didn’t regard any of these interruptions as disruptions. In other words, Christ did not seem to view these apparent interruptions in the same way that most of us seem to. And if you think that’s amazing, then consider this: Christ is now seated at the right hand of the Father in the dimension of eternity with the divine ability to “be with you always” (Matt. 28:20). That is, despite sustaining the very universe (Col. 1:17) and ordering the events of history toward the culmination of His redemptive plan (1Tim. 6:15), He sees you, He hears you. He knows exactly what you’re going through. Put simply, you can not interrupt the uninterruptible God!
Consequently, He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25
CHANGE THE WAY YOU VIEW INTERRUPTIONS
When we reflect on the life of Christ we can’t help but notice that He was a supremely important mission but what we may not as easily notice is how often Jesus was interrupted. Out of these interruptions came miracles, moments, and monumental messages. It’s as if Christ considered these interruptions to be divine appointment that actually furthered His mission! For those of who live busy lifestyles and find interruptions to be frustrating, Christ’s example presents an inconvenient challenge. To meet this challenge involves a posture of worship and divinely ordering our priorities. And I do not at all suggest that this will only take a minute!
Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.