TIME AND LOVE
I love grapefruit. They are best in the winter beginning about December and I try to enjoy a half every day until about May and prefer ruby-reds. In America I found WalMart has consistent, great grapefruit, so I would frequently stop in at a favorite store to stock up. One day I waited a long time in the checkout line. As usual being the important business man I thought I was, I was double booked and in a hurry. I needed to get in and get out without being bothered. The line was slow because of what I thought was a slow WalMart teller. As the teller totaled the bill for the customer in front of me, she stacked my grapefruit with that customer’s groceries. The customer explained to no avail that the grapefruit were not hers. Finally the teller understood and as she moved the grapefruit back to the belt they spilled, rolling all different directions on the floor at WalMart. I ran around scooping up my grapefruit and re-bagged them. Honestly, I felt put out with her. I would not have said anything, but none the less, I had big, critical thoughts toward her incapacity and neglect. I stepped up to pay my bill and noticed a badge pinned to her blouse with her name and the words: “Hearing Impaired”.
Wow, I was humbled. I was actually surprised and glad that my critical thoughts immediately evaporated. How could I have judged someone so harshly without knowing the full story? Here she was trying to make it in life with her problems. She was out there swinging at the ball like a champ trying to hit a home run. I felt admiration to WalMart for giving her the chance. I am a healthy, successful blessed guy. I had my problems but would not have traded them for hers. And, whenever I make mistakes I hope and actually expect people will give me the benefit of the doubt and patiently not react harshly toward me.
I smiled at her and kindly asked how she was doing. She said, “Not so well.” Her father was in the hospital that day for a cancer operation. She was upset, anxious and scared. She had never married and her father was all that she had. I felt more guilt. I visited with her, encouraged her and left. Over the coming years, I saw her occasionally in the store. I would say hi to her and ask about her. She became an acquaintance that enriched my life.
I have a saying in business, “You can be busy and rich or busy and poor. I choose to be busy and rich.” This speaks to rushing around being incredibly busy but not being productive (also pricing yourself so low that you are incredibly busy due to your cheap prices but there is no profit in the jobs, but that is a lesson for another day). I noticed that people can be terribly busy all day long checking email, filling out expense reimbursement reports, doing administrative tasks, etc. But, we get paid to produce deliverables for a client. That is the important work, the top priority and the basis for success. The other busy work things do not really matter so much.
What do I learn about missionary work from these two stories? With the first story (besides the obvious-be forgiving), I learned that I can become caught up in my schedule driven activities and lose sight of the most important thing; that success and the quality in missionary work lays in our relationships with others not the busy schedule. Quality relationships will naturally come when we love the people. Christ said if we love the Lord with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and our neighbor as ourselves, then we shall live.
In the second story I learned that it is possible to go through the motions of a successful mission and appear busy and productive yet never do the important thing of loving the people which is the deliverable that we are sent here to do. We can be busy doing missionary things but the top priority and the basis for success is love for the people.
Do not get me wrong. I hope and ask that we are all double booked and very busy, but at the same time, I hope we realize that really feeling love for the individuals we contact every day is the most important part of our work.
In 1831 Joseph Smith with ten Elders were traveling down the Missouri River in canoes. The Lord said,
“But verily I say unto you, that it is not needful … to be moving swiftly upon the waters, whilst the inhabitants on either side are perishing in unbelief. (DC61:3)
The message is clear. It is with the people where the fun is. In your busy schedule, take time to extend yourself and love the people.
One day Jesus entered into a certain village and was invited into the house of Martha. He and other disciples gathered there to eat and be together.
“38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)
I can just see Martha busy with “much serving”. This was the temporal affairs, the rushing in to get the grapefruit or the emails and busy work while never getting to the tasks that bring about real production. We must all choose the good part, to love the people.