My relationships are often defined more by distraction, internal chaos, and busyness rather than by being fully engaged with others and keenly attuned to what’s right in front of me.
We all have those moments when we’re in a conversation but we’re not really in the conversation. In other words, someone is talking to you, but your mind is elsewhere. You may have the appearance of listening externally, but internally you are taking a mental nap. Sometimes people realize it, and sometimes they don’t.
I’ll tell you what happens with me. Instead of fighting to live in the present, I allow a moment, a conversation, or a relationship to drift away into the rearview mirror of my life, never to be recaptured. When this happens, my capacity to love and influence the people right in front of me is diminished. I’ve discovered that the moments when I’m most effective as a leader happen when I’m most alive to right now. This doesn’t mean I neglect thinking about the future, pursuing the vision God has placed in my heart, or relinquish what needs to be accomplished. However, it does mean that to love and influence most fully, I must refuse to get lost in my mind and remain relationally disengaged.
Most leaders are compelled by the future, fascinated by vision, and obsessed with changing the status quo. But when we focus too much of ourselves on what we’re trying to accomplish, what is to come, what will be, or what change we’re hoping for, we can miss right now. And being able to live well in right now is critical to effective leadership.
When I reflect back and realize this has happened many times, it saddens me because I have too easily allowed potentially significant moments of my life to pass me by. Times when I don’t fully listen or capitalize on a conversation, times when I fail to love another human being like I should, and times when I simply miss out on capturing the depth and meaning that can be experienced in a relationship.
On the outside, life is always moving, but life can only be fully experienced when we are still and centered on the inside. Living like this empowers us to be fully engaged on the outside.
We will only encounter life in all its fullness when we remain centered in RIGHT NOW.
When we’re centered in the present, we’re able to bring the all-ness of who we are to our every moment, and that will enhance the quality of our relationships and empower the strength of our influence.
This way of living and leading is what I call the power of all-ness. Jesus dealt with the idea of all-ness when He was confronted with the question of the greatest commandment. He refers to all-ness as it relates to the dynamic force of loving God and others in relationships. He wraps the idea of all-ness into four realms as He challenges humanity to give the fullness of themselves through their heart, soul, mind and strength. You’re probably familiar with His declaration in the Gospel of Mark:
Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.
Above all else, Jesus’ desire for us is to embody the fullness of love with the entirety of who we are. When we don’t, we begin to compartmentalize who we are, thus allowing parts of our selves to remain disconnected, and thus distracted from who and what is right in front of us. Jesus understood that when we fail to integrate our complete self, we fragment our relationships and damper our capacity to influence others in a positive way.
In the original Greek language of the New Testament, Jesus uses the preposition ek, which means “from the center.” Then he connects ek with holos, which means, “the parts are all present” or “none are missing”. Jesus uses these two words together four times in Mark 12:30-31) to emphasize His desire for human beings to love God from the center of their being, bringing the all-ness of who they are–that is, every part of themselves into that relationship.
Jesus was heightening the importance of what I believe is a critical principle of right now leadership: wherever we are, be all there. He’s trying to help us understand the connection between living fully present and the holistic experience of love.
When we’re centered in right now, we will experience His power and love in more profound ways. In essence, that power will create a charge within us, and that charge is the intangible force of love that creates impact outside ourselves.
When every part of our being is fully present, we offer our whole selves to whatever we’re doing. Our undivided attention becomes focused in the right now (on the task at hand and on the people involved), thus empowering our ability to influence others more effectively.
Don’t get me wrong, I love dreaming about the future, pondering endless possibilities of what’s to come, and moving forward in life with hope, vision, and ambition. But I’ve discovered that when I take both eyes off the present, when I am not centered in the now, and when I am overly pre-occupied with the future, I miss right now. And right now is where the fullness of life is experienced and enjoyed. Right now is where love is most fully encountered both in you and through you.
Remember: Life is the moment we choose to live right now.