Put Down the Phone and Truly Engage with People

“Do not be interested only in your own life but be interested in the lives of others” (Philippians 2:4 NCV).

Everybody is busy.  Anytime I ask somebody how they are doing the response is always “busy” or “really busy.”  Americans are over worked and over stressed.   Work has become the number one focus for many, family second, and God third (if time permits).  This is not Biblical nor healthy.  Our priorities need be examined.

I remember when smart phones were introduced into the market several years ago.  I thought they would be great to help stay connected with work when out of the office.  The problem is they are very effective at keeping us connected with work.  We are always accessible.   Many of us check our work emails at night and weekends when we are home with our families.  We check and update or social media status all day and night. 

When I go out a restaurant or a meeting, I am always surprised how many people that are sitting in a group are focused on their phones and not the group.  We are checking voice mails, emails, texts, playing video games, or listening to music.  Our friends are sitting right next to us, but we are more focused on our social media friends, some of which we have never met.

Today most of us are a slave to our phones, and we no longer pay attention to the people around us.  As Christians we are to live in community and are taught, “Do not be interested only in your own life but be interested in the lives of others” (Philippians 2:4).  How can we show interest to others when we are always on our phone?  We can’t.

On-line communications is nice and necessary, but it won’t lead to relationships that feed your soul.  To have happy and deep relationships, we need to learn the lost art of paying attention.  We need to be present when we are present. 

This is counter intuitive for many of us.  Our flesh seeks the spotlight.  We want the focus on us, and we desperately want to be liked and for others to know we are liked.  To do this, we are very active on social media and treasure our followers rather than our real friends.

I have heard it said that people will not remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel.  People feel good when you give them your attention.  You honor someone by giving them your time.  One of our most precious commodities is time because it cannot be restored, and we all have an unknown, finite amount of it.

So, next time you are with your family for a meal, ball game, movie, etc., give them your time and be mentally present, and just physically present.  Put the phone down and model for them what it means to be truly present.  Use active listening. when talking with friends, family, and colleagues.    The other party will then know that you are seriously listening and interested in the conversation.

Years ago, Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a best-selling book “The Five Love Languages.”  One of the five is “Quality Time.”  We have quality time when we are truly present and actively listening to the other person.  Quality time is a lost love language that can help transform your relationships and help you live a happy life.

Prayer:  Dear God, There are so many voices competing for our attention.  We know that your spirit is in all of us and we honor You when we when we show sincere interest in others.   Help us to examine our priorities in life.  Amen. 

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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