The urgency of the phone call was real. It was clear that the called needed my time and attention. While I was willing, there was a catch. My time and location were not aligned with the need! First, the subject was not appropriate to have with a mingling crowd passing me by within hearing distance. Second, my mind was anywhere, except in this conversation. Even if I was willing to put privacy aside, I was not going to be able to focus in the way the call deserved.
This is not the first time I have been in this circumstance. My usual response is to have the conversation, imposing the details on those around me. I rarely find that this is beneficial for the caller or those that end up listening. On occasion, I excuse myself and move to a private space.
Today I honored the caller and used a new model. What I did is not new. It follows one used by my parents and older generations. An author captured the sequence. “The captain took him by the arm and led him aside privately. ‘What is it? What do you have to tell me?’” (Acts 23.19)
In this case, I reminded the caller of the importance I placed in our conversation. I shared my inability to honor this given where I was. I asked if we could meet and give the conversation the attention it deserved.
I need to do this more often! The tension on the line melted. The urgency took on a refreshing perspective. We committed and then met as planned. I found myself in the presence of trust that came from the simple act of honoring the extended hand.
Today’s demands will be unique and often unexpected. With each, you and I have an opportunity to respond. Our responses will vary from the spontaneous to the planned, from laughter to heartache. Each moment deserves our attention. Without being present and intentional, we risk losing the chance to act on priorities and values. In being, we honor the gift of relationships.