I have a lot of “Director” tendencies in me. I am often impatient with people who I feel are not trying as hard as they could. I want to see people focused and on point. It irritates me when people aren’t.
In one of my recent seminars, there was a young man who just didn’t seem to be paying much attention. Half of the time, he was outside the class talking on his phone in the hall. Then he’d come back in and distract the people around him as he resettled himself.
During the last 30 minutes before we took our lunch break, he came back in the class and just sat there staring at his workbook. When I got close to where he was in the room, I noticed that his eyes were a little glazed and red–almost like he was high or like he’d been drinking. But this was at 11:30 in the morning.
The lady next to him kept inching away from him and whispering to her friends. So I made a decision to talk with him as soon as we broke for lunch. I was going to ask him either to participate or let him know that he didn’t have to stay—he was free to go if he wasn’t interested in what I was teaching.
“What’s going on there my friend? Is everything all right? You seem to be a little distracted.” I said.
“I’m sorry. I’m enjoying your class. It’s just that my grandfather passed away three weeks ago and them my grandmother just passed away on Friday. To be quite frank with you, it’s devastating. My whole family is just torn up about it. I’m having a hard time sleeping at night. They were married for 63 years. It’s just killing us. They basically raised me.”
Dumbfounded, I told him I was sorry. I could tell now looking at him that what I thought was disinterest was really pain. He was just in a daze. I told him that I completely understood and that he surely didn’t have to stay for the rest of the afternoon. I totally understood and would make sure that he got a refund.
“No sir. I’m enjoying your class. I think I’m going to just go out to my car and take a 30-minute nap. I didn’t sleep well last night. I want to stay.”
And I was mad at the man that morning! I had read the whole situation wrong. He was distracted, but for the right reasons. He couldn’t help it. But I was impatient and more concerned about him not paying attention.
You just never know what’s going on in with the people you run into each day.
Father, please help me to be a more patient person. Help me to see the people around me the way you see them–with complete clarity. Help me to see the hurting people around me as Jesus so competently did. Thank you Lord.