|This post has nothing to do with ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption. It’s a good show though.|
In response to a post I wrote about time management where I mentioned having interruptions at work, one reader pointed me to a great quotation from Spiritual Leadership: Principles of Excellence for Every Believer by J. Oswald Sanders (thanks Karen!):
“One busy man told me how he mastered the problem of interruptions. ‘Up to some years ago,’ he testified, ‘I was always annoyed by them, which was really a form of selfishness on my part. People used to walk in and say, ‘Well, I just had two hours to kill here between trains, and I thought I would come and see you.’
That used to bother me. Then the Lord convinced me that He sends people our way. He sent Philip to the Ethiopian eunuch. He sent Barnabas to see Saul. The same applies today. God sends people our way.
So when someone comes in, I say, ‘The Lord must have brought you here. Let us find out why He sent you. Let us have prayer.’ Well this does two things. the interview takes on new importance because God is in it. And it generally shortens the interview. If a visitor knows you are looking for reasons why God should have brought him, and there are none apparent, the visit becomes pleasant but brief.
So now I take interruptions as from the Lord. They belong in my schedule, because the schedule is God’s to arrange at His pleasure.’”
I think it’s a great quotation, and it underscores the fact that sometimes, interruptions happen for a real reason. I say sometimes and not always because I don’t believe the popular mantra that “Everything happens for a reason.” But a lot of things do happen for a reason, and a little bit of probing and discernment can usually help you to see that.
It also underscores the fact that, if someone has interrupted by schedule with a real need, their need is more important than my schedule. If we claim to be servants of God, then we need to serve Him in all areas of life, and that means to serve Him with my schedule as well.
One last note on “ministry interruptions”: a wise and experienced minister once told me that when church members come by randomly just to shoot the breeze (and thus, interrupting his study time), he will enlist their aid in some ministry responsibility (making a visit, working on some project, etc.). In his experience, this has either led to productive visits where work is completed, or a reduction in those kinds of visits!