Love Thy Neighbor: Call Them Back

Love Thy Neighbor: Call Them Back

phoneThis was a recent post from a friend of mine on Facebook.  I couldn’t help but sympathize.  Maybe you’ve shared this frustration.  After all, with all the avenues  of communication today, why can’t people respond in a timely manner?  While it might be fun to rant and rave about this topic (or make excuse), the more important question for us as Christian is how the Gospel informs our communication.  In other words, should our faith affect how quickly we respond to people?

Many are familiar with the Greatest Commandment – “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37, 39)  People who reach out to us are our neighbors.  We want to love them and treat them how we’d like to be treated.  One of the simplest ways to do this is by getting back to them in a timely manner.Now, some may protest.  “What’s the big deal?  After all, we’re talking about just a few unreturned phone calls, not eternity, right?”  Well, consider companies with poor customer service departments that don’t call you back.  Or when you send someone an email at work to get a quick answer which you need to do your job, but get no response.  Whatever the situation, lack of communication doesn’t elicit a positive view of an individual and certainly doesn’t bring glory to God.So, for those of us, who sometimes get overwhelmed and find it challenging to keep up (and yes, I sometimes find myself there), here are some things I have found helpful:
  1. Choose your modes of communication – There are A LOT of modes of communication.  If you’re not on all of them, it’s ok.  In fact, it could be a good thing.  One of my friends who is a Christian business owner doesn’t text.  It’s not that he doesn’t know how, but he doesn’t choose to.  He is on the road a lot (don’t text and drive!) and also draws clear lines between work time and family time.  In the end, he knows that he won’t respond well via text, so he tells everyone if you want to reach him, phone and email are best.  In the same way, decide which modes are best, cut out those which are not, and let people know.
  2. Commit to a timely response – One of the big reasons people don’t respond is that they don’t schedule time to do it.  To make sure this happens, put it in your calendar (Google is for this).
  3. Ask for grace – Sometimes stuff happens, and despite our best efforts, we can’t get back to everyone in a reasonable timeframe (24 hours is a generally accepted standard, though use your best judgment).  For example, that long email that requires a well-thought out response.  In these situations, it is better to let them know and set a later time, rather than say nothing at all.  For example, “Got your email.  Sorry, things have been a bit crazy here.  I can get back to you later this week, though feel free to follow up if you don’t hear from me.”  It’s much better than silence.

As a final thought, talk to some people you trust, such as colleagues, family, and especially your local church community.  Get some good feedback on your habits.  Find someone who excels in this area and ask them for help.  It may not seem like much, but responding well can go a long way in loving our neighbor.Originally posted on CruAtWork.org.

The New Jersey Metro Website

The New Jersey Metro Website

Without the Gospel

Without the Gospel