Column: Make people a priority by listening, asking questions

When Jesus was separated from his parents, his parents found him at the temple “listening…and asking questions.” (see Luke 2:46)

Is that what you would expect to find teenagers doing today? More than likely, they would be texting, scrolling and surfing on their favorite electronic device.

Even though this story took place more than 2,000 years ago, there is so much we can learn from it. There are specific principles that if applied can make a difference in how we manage technology today. For instance, Jesus was present. He was in the moment.

He was engaged with people. These were recurring themes in the life and ministry of Jesus. People were a priority for him.

Listening is one of the ways we make people a priority. In fact, listening is the language of love. That is because listening validates people as valuable.

But Jesus was not only listening, he was also asking questions. As God, Jesus didn’t have to ask questions, but he obviously understood when you ask questions, you communicate value, show interest and prove concern for the people you are with.

Asking questions is one of the primary ways to engage someone else’s heart. Jesus was paying attention. He was tuned in. He was present.

What does this mean for you and me? When I allow myself to be distracted by my device, I have devalued the people in my presence. Let that sink in for a moment. Think about what it could mean to you personally.

When was the last time your focus was more on an electronic device than the person standing right in front of you? We are conditioned to react to every notification, whether it beeps, rings, vibrates, chirps or buzzes.

When those notifications take precedence over someone’s presence, aren’t we making a statement about the value of the unknown over the known?

I know I am guilty. When I am in the moment and the phone rings or I get some kind of notification on my phone and it feels like it can’t wait, I at least want to sneak a peek to see who it is.

And once you look at it, how many of us have said or heard someone else say, “I have to take this?” I just want to say, “Really? You have to take it? It can’t wait?” It doesn’t feel like it can wait in the moment.

Perhaps we need to learn how to differentiate between what’s urgent and what’s important.

Steve Greene is the lead pastor of The Point in Seymour. Read his blog at or email him at [email protected]. Send comments to [email protected].