I am not a big fan of interruptions. In living a life of pain the only way I can effectively make it through some days is having a set agenda and executing against it. If anything falls outside my set schedule it can become very irritating. But no matter how stringent I try to hold to a schedule interruptions are inevitable.
Many of us fall in the same boat. We get irritated by the unexpected phone call during dinner from a salesman. The crash on the freeway that made you late for work. Or a long line at the grocery store which ruined your “I’ll just drop by the store and pick up some bread” plan. We have some plan in our mind or expectation about how a task or day should go, but get sidetracked by some interruption which throws us off track.
While I do believe it is important to have a life plan in this day and age. This is true to a point because there are too many distractions, without a plan you will wander. But we have to be careful creating a plan which has no room for interruptions. If we do not make room for interruptions we are going to be irritated all the time because interruptions are unavoidable. We will also miss opportunities to enter into transcendent moments beyond our own design.
My Children’s Interruptions
When my children were younger the interruptions were constant and too many times I would look at them as an annoyance. I was trying to get work accomplished, I had a chore to finish, I could not comprehend the question they were asking, or I did not want to stop and take the time to listen to what they were saying.
Upon reflection there was nothing inherently wrong with the interruption, it was simply my attitude at being interrupted. But on those occasions when I sat my work down and invested in their thought, question, or play I was never disappointed. It was a moment to live out their life or fantasy and it realigned my heart and I hope had an impact on them as their father.
When we look at the life of Christ it seems his entire ministry was an interruption. He had his plan, to spread the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. But how he accomplished this goal seems very haphazard. I am very sure it was not, but by all appearances he went from town to town and just saw what would happen. He would start healing, start speaking, or simply meet someone’s deepest need.
Through this entire ministry he always had time for interruptions. In fact he seemed to welcome them. There is a scene in Luke 18 where Jesus had been teaching several parables about being persistent and humble. The scene is set where it appears his disciples where hanging around Jesus like security around a pop star. His “posse” was making sure no one got too close to Jesus. But in a momentary lapse of security several people snuck through with their children so Jesus could heal their babies.
The disciples, probably thinking they were doing Jesus a favor, jumped in and rebuked the parents and shooed away the children. But Jesus, always being Jesus, actually called all of the children to him. For the children it had to be a wonderful moment in being called by a person of stature. But Jesus also took the opportunity to tell us how we should act in coming to the kingdom of God and that is like a child. For if we think about it a child is rarely upset by an interruption. A child’s life, much like the appearance of Jesus’ ministry, is simply let’s see what the day holds and go with it. An attitude we all too often set aside when becoming an adult.
4 Ways to Look at an Interruption
If we are to act as children when it comes to the kingdom of God, then what are different ways we can look at the interruptions in our lives? To be able to live out our lives with more expectancy that Christ is moving in every day, but are not taking the time to see where he is “interrupting” our lives.
1. An Unexpected Gift – The first way we can view an interruption is as an unexpected gift. When we received a phone call or email from an old friend it can be refreshing. It can be a gift. I cannot begin to count the number of times I was laser focused on a task and received a phone call, email, or interruption I did not think I had time for. But in that moment I stopped and listened or even participated in the interruption and every time my soul was refreshed through the process. How we look at interruptions is basically a mind-shift. If we stop looking at them as an annoyance and begin to look at them as a gift it can change our whole perception about life’s little detours.
2. An Unexpected Movement – The second way we can look at an interruption is as an unexpected movement. What I mean by this is our day can be moving in a certain direction. But it may not be the best direction for us on that particular day. An interruption has the ability to change your movement in a positive direction. If you mind is not in a place to do work well, spend time with your children in a positive way, or lead in a respectful way. A simple unexpected interruption of coffee with a friend or mentor, a phone call, or email if looked at properly can change the movement of your day. You also have the ability to pick up a phone or send an email to engage that person to help you change how your day is moving. You have the power to make the interruption happen and put your day on a much more positive course.
3. An Unexpected Moment of Play – The third way to look at an interruption is an unexpected moment of play. If you are a parent this has happened to you a thousand times. I have worked from home for most of career. While I did not have the ability to drop everything every time one of my kids came into my office. I did make it a habit of letting them know if my door was open they could come in. I also gave myself permission to give into their requests when they did come through the door. For the most part these moments never lasted for more than five or ten minutes. But during many of these times of reading a story, watching a short video, wrestling on the floor, or just sitting in my lap always left me with a smile on my face and a different perspective about work and life. Play is extremely important in our lives and we need give ourselves permission to give into those moments of unexpected play when we are interrupted.
4. An Unexpected Change of Heart – The last way we can look at interruptions is having an unexpected change of heart. Let’s face it we live in an extremely negative culture. Complaining is usually the top of most news and social media feeds. If we are not careful we can easily let our attitude follow that of the world. An interruptions can offer us an opportunity for an unexpected change of heart, the ability to change our attitude for the day. These are times where we may need to force the interruption, days when we are being sucked into the negativity it may be up to us to either walk away from the negativity, or intentionally seek out someone or something positive. There is nothing beneficial about us living in a negative space. Be aware of interruptions during these times and take advantage of them as much as possible.
We tend to over-schedule our lives leaving no room for interruptions, when they could be what we need most in that very moment. My challenge for you this week is to make yourself aware of the interruptions you face. Then see which interruptions you need to enter into in order to change your heart or life. The interruption could transform your day, or even better be exactly what someone else needed in their life.