This originally appeared as a weekly devo on whillschurch.org.
Do you remember learning how to drive? Do you remember grabbing the steering wheel for the first time? Heart begins to beat a bit faster. Remember moving the seat up to the dash to reach the pedals? Remember pressing the brake down through the floorboard? Do you remember the rumble of the car as the engine turned over? Do you remember digging your fingernails into the steering wheel, your forehead wet with sweat? The lurch of the car as you pressed the accelerator? The white lines of the road blazing by in your peripheral vision?
Remember being so glued to the dashboard and the hood of the car that you never noticed sideswiping a parked car on the way home?
Me neither but it happened. True story.
I was a youth pastor in Little Rock, Arkansas and one night after Bible study we get a phone call from one of the student’s parents. “Grant, can you do us a favor? Can you drive down your street and see if there is a car parked on the side of the road that looks like it’s been sideswiped?”
“Uh…..sure.” I was thinking – there are less obvious ways to get us out of the house if you trying to pulling a prank on us.
Come to find out, their high school daughter had indeed swapped paint with a car parked on the side of the road. To add insult to injury – she had no idea that she had done it until the police showed up at her house. Apparently the owners of the car were sitting on the front porch when it happened.
She was so focused on what was in front of her – the dash and the hood – that she never noticed anything else around her. It’s not a great way to drive. In fact, it’s a horrific way to drive. As a driver, you’ve got to be aware of what is going on around you in all directions at all times.
Unfortunately, this tunnel-vision phenomenon happens in other areas of life. Particularly relationships. Even more particularly – those of us who deal with the care of others. People like teachers, pastors, life group leaders, caregivers, coaches, and bosses. It’s possible to get so focused on the dashboard – to not see anything else. What does that look like?
It’s a coach who is so obsessed with a play that he forgets to teach fundamental skills his players need to be successful.
It’s a teacher that is so focused on teaching the WHAT, they forget to explore if the students know the HOW and the WHY. It’s a teacher that forgets that they teach PEOPLE, not a subject. The subject is the mean, the person is the point.
It’s a small group leader focused on completing the study but missing the hurt in the eyes sitting next to him. It’s a minister saying the most horrific words ever – “I don’t have time for that person…”
Our staff walked through this with each other this week. How many people walk through the doors on a Sunday morning asking the question – “Who will meet my need today? Who will notice me? Who will pray with me? Who will help me?” My hunch is upper 90%. How many people walk through the doors on Sunday with a checklist of all the things they have to do in order to serve that morning? My guess – the 30 to 40% that serve on Sunday morning.
How many people walk through the doors asking – “who can I help today? Who can I serve? Who can I minister to? Smile with? Hug on?”
My hunch? It’s a really small number.
And I’m not always in that really small number.
You see the train wreck, right? What happens if everyone shows up and no one is asking the question – “Who can I serve today? Who can I connect with today?” There is going to be a lot of sideswiping. I imagine this happens more than we realize because hurt feelings are a lot quieter than crunched metal. They are also harder to repair.
The biggest step from consumer to producer, from receiver of God’s grace to giver of God’s grace, from participant to leader is the step of getting our heads out of the dash. Lifting those eyes up to notice those around us. You might have to slow the vehicle down to do this. Change that – you will HAVE to slow the vehicle down to do this.
But it is the way of Jesus. Think of how many “interruptions” Jesus had on his journeys. Those side of the road interactions that we see as the purpose of the passage but in the moment – when they actually happened – they were interruptions. Inconveniences. Unplanned. And it required Jesus having his head out of the dash, eyes up, aware of who was around him.
Look for the interruption this week. Get those eyes over the dash. See what miracles God may have for you.