I remember how frustrated Diane, our old IVCF staff worker, used to get with me my sophomore year in college. I had decided to get involved in IVCF leadership that year and had taken a position on the chapter’s executive board. It quickly became apparent that I was not well suited or that kind of leadership. My outlook was simply more relational.
The scene played out several times, varying only in details. The day of a meeting would roll around, and I’d be talking to someone. The conversation would be deep and personal, as I was never good at small talk and people tend to spill their guts around me anyway. I’d note the time and decide that continuing the conversation was important than getting to my meeting on time. Often, I wouldn’t make it to the meeting at all. This would frustrate Diane to no end, adn she’d try to get me to understand that while relationships were important, always breaking my other commitments for the sake of a conversation wasn’t entirely right either. I don’t think she ever got very far with me on that score. Eventualy, we agreed to muddle through the rest of the year. We also agreed that I’d take a role the following year that would be better suited to my nature.
I’ve grown a lot in the fifteen years that have passed since then. As a more mature person, I can now more readily see Diane’s point more clearly. And I’m more likely to judge a relational need more carefully these days, taking into account how immediate the need is, how serious my other commitments are, and other such factors. Today, there’s a real possibility that I’ll say, “This is important. I care and I want to be there for you. But can we talk about it in a couple of hours?”
But I’m still mainly relationally oriented. I’ll keep my commitments to activities like meetings to a minimum. The difference, however, is that I’m less likely to take on sucha commitment in the first place, rather than taking it on and then breakign it later. Because I’d rather have my time free so I can listen to people. I understand that now. And I allow for that preference reponsibly.