This is likely to come across as a rant, but it’s something I picked up on years ago and I thought it was worth sharing with you all, in the hope that it might help.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had a conversation with someone where it seems pretty clear they are not listening to you and they’d rather not be there…? They keep looking past you as you’re talking, it seems, in the hope that someone more interesting and perhaps more worthy will walk past and they can excuse themselves and go talk to that VIP (Very Interesting Person).

Sadly I’ve found myself doing that in the past, and also encountered many church leaders who do that here in England. In fact, its mainly church leaders that I’ve found doing that, and I’m not sure why. Perhaps its only me. Perhaps there’s a very good reason they keep looking past me to find that VIP… but maybe I’m not the only one.

If this is more widespread than just me, then it is very concerning. Being a church leader is about the people. It is about loving and caring for them. And it seems (at least from the way Jesus did it) that its about caring for the least of them – and not chasing after the VIP.

On the flip side when I was younger Frank Retief, the South Africa Bishop came over to me – we had met a few times before so it wasn’t a first meeting. But he put a firm hand on my shoulder and we chatted. And he kept such eye contact with me that it felt like I was the only person in the room.

That made a huge impact on me, and so I’ve tried since to look at people when talking to them. And even if a real VIP should walk past I will try and not look at them and give my full attention to that person.

So – if it looks like I’m staring at you with a slightly crazed look – that’s why. And if I look away from you and don’t seem interested, please, please, give me a quick kick in the shins.