August 25, 2007

On Email

Never check your email before you start reading…There is something in the format of e-mail (its terseness? the sheer volume of messages? its tendency to reward skimming over deep reading?) that pulls the mind away from the contemplative, relaxed frame so important for good reading. If you get good news, you’re distracted by it; if someone writes you a nasty note, you’ll spend the next forty-five minutes mentally formulating blistering replies rather than concentrating on your book. If no one writes at all, you’ll be depressed because you’ve suddenly become invisible in cyperspace.“–Susan Wise Bauer, The Well Educated Mind

This made me laugh! Blistering replies? Overjoyed exuberance? Sudden depression (used mildly) at your own invisibility? :D Okay, I admit it; I have an affinity to this quote. Susan makes her point well (and in an amusing manner at that) about the mental distraction email can be .

In context, Susan is referring ‘reading’ as the intensive study of the classic literature –literature like Plato and his fellow sophists. I find it even more applicable to reading something far more important: God’s Word. We should not just be careful to a set aside time to read and study God’s Word; we should also be vigilant to preserve mental focus for our time alone with our Creator and his Word. After all, His law is perfect, converting the soul, his testimony is sure, making wise the simple, his statues are right, rejoicing the heart, and his commandment is pure, enlightening the eyes…they are more to be desired than gold, yeah, than much fine gold, and they are sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb!* Wow. Think about that!

So, If you’re having trouble concentrating on your Plato after breakfast because you just checked your email, maybe you should think about implementing the mantra Susan presents. Never check your email before reading. But far more importantly, if you’re struggling to focus on the precious, holy Word of God, just because you’re still mentally reeling from your visit to your inbox, then I challenge you. Never check your morning email before your time alone with your Redeemer and His Words of life! In my experience, any efforts to reduce brain traffic before my quiet time in the morning with God and His Word has always been worth it. He is worth it!

*Psalm 19:7,8,10, slightly condensed.

August 20, 2007

When Leadership Calls You...

I learned something hard today: It isn't always easy to be a leader.

In fact, it's usually rather difficult. You are required to do many things that you may not otherwise be called upon to do. For instance, most leaders must have the ability to guide, or even rebuke, the people under them.

I learned that today, and it's not nearly as easy as it might sound. Especially when you're a Christian, and must deal with all men with love and kindness, and as Christ would.

But Christ did chide His disciples when they needed it. In fact, He even became very harsh with them at certain times, like when they argued over who the greatest of them would be, or when Peter, James, and John slept at the Mount of Olives instead of watching over Him as He asked. It's a difficult and often uncomfortable task, but it is a position that you can learn much from. I have.