Being Present

“And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there.” – 1 Corinthians 7:17 (the Message)

A couple of weeks ago, I was blessed with the incredible opportunity to attend Catalyst Conference in Atlanta.

Catalyst is a conference where Christian leaders from everywhere come together to hear from about a dozen speakers that are the “movers and the shakers” in Christian ministry. {Click on the bold word Catalyst above to see a description of what this conference really is…at least watch the video! Come back when you are done to get my thoughts on this year’s events.}

We are not pastor’s nor am I even the women’s ministry director at my church. Which really, doesn’t make sense at why my husband and I like to go, but as a LEADER that wants to see and hear from the people making the most impact in churches all across this nation – it was well worth anyone’s time and effort! This conference is for church leaders that can come and see the work God is doing in other passionate leaders in the ministry.

Years ago when I first attended Catalyst, I began to see the opportunities of stepping outside the box of traditions. Stepping out of the “same old – same old” way of doing things. The Values are still the same – but the methodology changes. Some times traditions can be good, however, it can keep us from being the Great that God calls us to be as disciples. As I have begun learning and following many different teachers and pastors from all over the USA, I have received teachings that I would ordinarily not have the opportunity to hear. Praise the Lord for Podcasts!

This year, we were privileged to hear from Andy Stanley, Pricilla Shirer, Mark Driscol, Judah Smith, Francis Chan, Hillsong United and Dave Ramsey just to name a few. Believe me…that doesn’t even touch the tip of the iceberg of the speakers and organizations we were exposed to during that 48 hours. My note-book is full with all the goodies that I was able to walk away with.

I wanted to share with you some thoughts of the theme of this year’s event. It got my attention from the word GO!

Be Present. was the theme that surrounded each message we were given in the two compact days.

Andy Stanley opened the day with a powerful message about being present in the lives of those who need us most.

This is what a page said in my notebook that jolted me when I read it…

“Wherever you are, be all there. As leaders, we much be Present. it’s our responsibility to embrace what God has put squarely in front of us. And take action right where we are. NOW. Be present requires time and place. Undivided attention. Moments to care. Stopping everything else to pay attention. Listening, caring, loving, leading. Taking root with what is in front of you. Leading where you are.

We need more moments of presence. With our God, our teams, our families, our friends, our neighbors, our city, our circle of influence. We must show up, be in the moment, and make a difference. Has the busyness of life distracted you from what matters most? When is the last time you really listened for that still small voice of your Creator, to your children, your spouse, your friends, your co-workers? Busyness is a poor excuse.

Are you all in? Stop waiting for tomorrow and start focusing on what is right in front of you. Your community needs you. God has called you to your current place of influence. Be rooted there. Change the conversation.”

Now…I realize that being present is harder than we all think. Culture today has things going on around us faster than anything or anyone has ever predicted it would. Families are having to manage so much involvement in outside activities. Maintaining a business is harder than they really are willing to speak about on Wall Street. There are so many things that are fighting for our attention and time. No wonder so many of us are doing 50% on things we originally set out to do at 100%.

Do you see where I am going? We need to stop and pay attention to that thing or things that are competing for our attention. Are we really being true to our priorities? Or maybe a better question is do we even have a list of priorities?

Stop. Pay attention. Be present.

I know my family is desperately calling for me to live with this philosophy.

A suggestion was made during the weekend that everyone should take a 48 hour vacation from anything technology every 2 weeks. Use that time to engage in relationships, read a book, fast, and pray. I know this suggestion just made many of you sink in your seat while reading this…”that is impossible!”

Really? I don’t think it is impossible! It just needs to be a priority.

The next point Andy made was so well received by the audience…he mentioned how we have come out of a mindset of thinking which we probably learned from growing up…because it was probably told to us several times.

“Well, if I let you eat an ice cream then everyone will want an ice cream.”

(In school) – “If I let you go to the bathroom, then everyone will want to go to the bathroom.”

So somehow we have believed that if we can’t do for everyone something that will change the world then, we shouldn’t at least do it for one.

I realized I had fallen into this trap and believed this lie that culture had unintentionally taught me.

Andy told a powerful moving story of how he began to minister to a homeless woman who had visited his father’s church while he was preaching one Sunday. During a 20 year time span the Stanley’s would be there and help out this woman named Jane. They went through good times and bad times… and even times when Jane would scammed him and his wife out of money so that she could go buy drugs. But at the end of the day, he realized the time and talks he poured into Jane would far out weigh any money he could have given to the homeless shelter.

Jane finally found Jesus and was healed from her addictions as well as she got cleaned up from all the destructive things in her life. She began ministering to others…in her own home and bible study group! When Andy and his wife saw this they broke with compassion realizing what they did for that ONE made a difference in SO MANY.

His battle cry was: “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.” Even as life gets busier and more demanding, we must be engaged with those we choose to impact, rather than be fair to everyone. However, Andy showed that by dedicating ourselves to going deep with one rather than wide with many, we often end up doing something for far more than just one.

So today I leave you with this…

Are you fully PRESENT?

Are you pouring into ONE with the same intentions you would for everyone? I would love to hear your responses. You never know how it might minister to someone else reading this blog.



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