If you simply kept your eyes open, it seemed, you just might find something valuable in the most unlikely of places. The trick was to recognize a good thing when you saw it, no matter how odd or worthless it might at first appear, no matter who else might just walk away and leave it behind.Brown, Daniel James. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics (p. 37). Penguin Publishing Group.
This quote is part of the backstory of one of the boys in the U of Washington rowing team. This quote reminds me of the importance of “paying attention.” In life, and in ministry, this is an important skill to develop.
Paying attention helps us to see the wonder, the gifts, around us, too easily missed as we dash from here to there, or as we check off the items on our to-do list.
Paying attention slows us down so that we can see the subtext in the lives of those to whom we minister. The question, the criticism, the burst of anger, the tears, the delight, may signal something more, something deeper. If we pay attention, we just might catch it, and be able to lead forward as Christ is further shaped in them.
Rachel Held Evans puts it this way: God surprises us by showing up in ordinary things: in bread, in wine, in water, in words, in sickness, in healing, in death, in a manger of hay, in a mother’s womb, in an empty tomb. Church isn’t some community you join or some place you arrive. Church is what happens when someone taps you on the shoulder and whispers in your ear, Pay attention, this is holy ground; God is here (in Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church, p. 276).
When we are so busy getting to our destination, of fixing a problem, or completing the assignment, we miss out. But when we open our eyes, when we slow down, when we look beyond and beneath, a whole world opens up for us, and for others.