Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Being Present: Reflections on Catalyst 2011

Catalyst 2011, a conference geared towards emerging Leadership (primarily Christian), had the theme: BE PRESENT. My first thought when hearing the theme for this conference I would attend with some of my co-workers was: how cliché and trendy. Yes, in a world filled with 24-hour news, smart phones, and social media, to revolve a conference around “being present” was a pretty easy target. Yet no matter how easy the target, was still a message I needed to hear and I am guessing most people that attended needed to hear.

As primarily a visionary leader who lives a lot of life in the abstract and future, I really needed this conference to help recalibrate me. I needed to hear other accomplished visionaries and leaders say that “being present” was important. I was not disappointed. Like I mentioned, I live primarily in the future. I am always thinking about the next step. Planning. Coordinating. Detailing every singe move and possible outcome. This has actually hindered me at times in my ability to truly lead because I either become uber-focused on the task (at the cost of people) or when the path gets blown up I am left paralyzed in knowing how to move forward.

I have looked ahead for the next big opportunity, passing by the ones right in front of me.
I have looked ahead for the time Judah would take his first step when he was just starting to crawl.
I have looked ahead to the trip to the restaurant when I was eating at home.
I have looked ahead to retirement savings while passing by the guy who could have used a few bucks today.
I have looked ahead to Asia while still living in Philly.

I live a lot of my life in the future.

I realized at this conference just how big of an issue this has been in my life. My work. My family. My friends. My growth and development. My call. All of it. I am always looking to the future.

There were many brilliant aspects to Catalyst. I heard from seasoned leaders of the church, non-profits, and major businesses to grassroots innovators and a 21-year old single woman who has adopted 14 African children…and everyone in between on effective leadership. Maybe I will blog about all of that…but the earth moving point for me as it has to do with this particular idea of “being present”, the most impactful moment of the entire conference was this…

One of the speakers, shared about a young man who was electrocuted in a baptismal during a Sunday church service. This man’s future plans, whatever they might have been, were at that moment dashed. The speaker shared what was to be the sermon the man was going to give after the baptism. It was about “being present”. There were references to loving those in front of you now, doing the little things now, and various pleas like that…but the one line that stays with me was the line that had most to do with my situation. This line was this: “Wipe the nose of your 3-year old, because one day he will wipe it himself.” I just about cried….I think you get the point.

Jesus says, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” He also says that we don’t know the future and to live for the day. There is a lot that could be said about passages along these lines of “living for the day”. I will save the exegesis and just note that Jesus says this (above) right after he talks about taking care of others first, not storing up treasures on earth (i.e. wealth), and not worrying about our lives in what we will eat, drink, or clothing we will wear (all basic necessities).  Jesus says this to highlight that He will provide (for basic needs, not necessarily luxurious desires), and that truly only He can provide for us and the world. He says this to get us present in the day, because we are not promised tomorrow. So why live in the future. We may not have it. Jesus is beckoning us to be fully present in the day. It is there that we will find Him. It is there that transformation of ourselves and our world happens, when we are totally engaged in the here and now. Totally invested and vested in now.

I come home from Catalyst a changed man. I come home to wipe my 3-year old’s nose. 

1 comment:

DrsMyhre said...

Thanks Grant. This was a theme in our regional AFrica retreat with Dan, and I realized the most "in the present" times for me at this point in my life are watching my kids' sports games. It grounds you in the now in a good way. And it's more fun than wiping a nose . . . though at times more painful too.