VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (BP)–You’ve seen the scene. Perhaps even experienced it close up, like I did. There I was, driving down the road, prudence personified behind the wheel. All of a sudden, some product of the me-first culture comes flying out of a gas station and cuts me off, barely missing my bumper.
I hit the brakes, but not the horn. Honking displeases God, you know. But then I notice something else displeasing: On the back of the minivan that just cut me off was a little fish: This driver’s a Christian and is boldly proclaiming that to the world — or at least the world behind his four-wheeled weapon.
Normally, it’s a great thing to profess fearlessly what we believe. We need much more of that among believers. But when we’re marring the cause of Christ because of our hurry, some things are better left unprofessed.
We see similar speed-induced setbacks around the neighborhood when, for the sake of time, we avoid those who live next door. Who has time for small talk these days, much less a barbeque?
We see the problem in our homes, as we trade efficiency for quality time with our kids. “Pick a shorter book for daddy to read,” we say at bedtime, keeping one eye on the clock so we don’t miss some TV show.
In the workplace, it’s arguably even worse. How many times do we rush past others’ needs, offering no more than a quick, indifferent “hello” to them because we’re so focused on getting the next thing done?
When our interaction with others says, “I have something more important to do,” they feel the same way that I felt when I was cut off by that little fish. “What a hypocrite!” they might think. “Where’s the compassion? Where’s the love? What’s with the ‘me-first’ attitude?” It’s enough to make them want to lean on their horn.
It’s been said quite correctly that “you’ll meet more spiritually needy people than your pastor ever will” and that “your life is the only Bible many people will ever read.” Those aren’t bumper sticker clichés, they’re realities. Ours is an awesome, awesome responsibility. Other people’s very eternity may be affected by how we conduct ourselves in our daily lives!
The time may be right for you to turn a corner on this issue. To find out, take inventory of yourself during the next two or three days. Look for signs that your hurry is compromising your witness. Consider this at the most telling moments, like immediately after conversations or at the end of your commute or in a time of sincere reflection at the end of the day. Examine yourself through the eyes of those around you. Do you need to alter your pace of life?
Fast is the enemy of love. We can’t love people in a hurry. We can’t serve them in a hurry, or listen to them in a hurry, or empathize with them or comfort them in a hurry. They’ll see that we’re just going through the motions of our faith, and it may in fact drive them further from God.
So slow down. A lot more than your bumper is at stake.
Adapted from a new book by Michael Zigarelli, dean of Regent University’s school of business: “Freedom from Busyness: Biblical Help for Overloaded People,” released by Broadman & Holman Publishers, the trade books division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.