Steve Macchia Blog

New Social Mores – Part Two

As I started in the previous blog, I have a growing concern about how we’re communicating with one another in a variety of social settings…offered from my personal observations. I’m curious about how this is affecting our life together as brothers and sisters in Christ, and wonder if you’re sensing the same things.

So, I’d like to offer here a few additional noticings:

Have you paid attention to the abundance of self-referencing going on today? One person shares their heart; the other responds with their own application of the story instead of simply being present to empathetically attend. “Oh yea, that happened to me as well…” or “Looks great, did you know I’ve been there/done that too…” then adding all their own tiresome details. Reality: we have learned a new way of listening that’s more about what I’m hearing from my own personal vantage point rather than focusing exclusively on the speaker’s words and accompanying thoughts, experiences, and/or feelings.

What about one-up-man-ship…always having to be better looking, wiser, wittier or wealthier than another? You know those kind of people who can only be in the presence of others if the spotlight can be appropriately turned on them, and if not, will do whatever it takes to be sure it is. This is evidenced in clothing, automobiles, homes, self-care, story telling, political convictions, educational achievements, etc. Reality: it’s painful to be in the presence of our competitors who will do what it takes to get the attention and seek purposefully or inadvertently to be better than you.

The next two go hand in glove…no restraint and no filters. Those without restraint will say anything that comes to their mind, albeit random, unnecessary, or even hurtful. Having no restraint in relational settings can at times be humorous, but only when it’s self-deprecating. Most of the time, no restraint means no social sense of what’s appropriate for the company or occasion. Add to that no filters, then it’s often without boundaries, with words, feelings, and attitudes expressed whenever and with whomever is present. Reality: gone is acceptable etiquette and appropriately filtered restraint between persons.

May I suggest some additional personal inventory reflection questions:
1. Recall one of the most immediate personal interactions you had with a friend, family member, or work associate. Were you fully present for the other person’s sake alone, or did you need to bring up your own illustration of what was being discussed?
2. Who is your greatest relational competitor? How can you avoid competing with others in your own personal interactions with others today?
3. Having trouble with maintaining appropriate restraint and/or filters in conversations or on social media? If so, seek accountability so as not to be an offense to others and be open to candid feedback when you cross over boundaries which lead to unhealthy relationships.

Relationships within the body of Christ should reflect the tone, style, and posture of Jesus. He was always fully attentive to those with whom He loved and served. His was the way of humility. He spoke with bold and purposeful intentionality, never wasting words or speaking in a vacuum. May it be so for us, even today, as we interact with all who cross our path. May we be salt and light, filled with joy and freedom, peace and love in all our personal interactions.



New Social Mores – Part One

Some of the new ways we’re communicating with one another – or not – concern me. I’m curious if these impressions and reflections resonate with your experience too. And, I’m wondering if as believers in Jesus there is a higher ground to stand upon…

For example, with our eyes fixed on our smart phones, we simply aren’t fully present with one another. We’re distracted, believing we can multi-task (even though that theory’s been proven false) and still remain focused. Reality: we’re at maximum about 50% present to another when we’re reading and/or responding to texts or social media, talking on the telephone, playing online/video games, or typing url’s into our search engines.

Which leads to inattentive listening, “Oh, I’m sorry, were you saying something?” or selective listening, “Huh? No, I was busy and missed that one (translation: I chose to tune it out!).” Reality: our easily distracted minds can only handle so much input and we are left with receiving only that which we can or choose to absorb. Left alone in our own personal orbits, we miss a lot of both spoken and unspoken meaning in our relational interactions.

May I suggest we all consider a personal inventory, asking ourselves:

Are you fixated on having your smart phone within reach at all times? When do you ever turn it off or leave it behind for the express purpose of being free from the demands of others in order to be fully present to yourself or those around you?

What would your closest friend or family member say about your (in)ability to listen? What words would they use to describe your listening skills?

Lord Jesus, help me to focus today on You, Your people, and Your invitation to be fully aware of Your presence, peace, and power, and to all who will cross my path. May I be free from distraction so that with love and compassion I may be Your vessel of grace each hour of my day. For the honor of Your name and the glory of Your Kingdom. Amen.



FYI or FYP?

Whenever I’m asked to remember something or someone in my prayers, I want to be sure to follow through faithfully. Whenever I’ve asked someone else to remember me in their prayers, I’m hoping they will do the same.

But, I must admit…unless I pray then and there, I’m likely to forget. Not because I intend to forget, but simply due to the reality of a very full ministry life. And, who among us isn’t in need of prayer in the moment and on point?

I was in a conversation recently with a friend who was “in the know” about some important information about a mutual acquaintance. As the details were being explained to me, I asked how this was known. “I was asked to pray about it” was the reply.

Cynical me wondered if indeed this inside info was something held onto for sharing at opportune moments. Or, if in fact, the need was being remembered in prayer.

Then, almost like a prick of conscience, I was reminded of additional data about this circumstance…something I was going to pray about! But instead I recited it in the conversation as if it was shared with me “Merely FYI.”

There’s a huge difference between FYI (for your information) and FYP (for your prayers). The former can become chatter, gossip, or worse yet, forgotten. The latter is of far greater importance…prayer.

So, the next time you’re “in the know” about the needs of another, be sure to remember it all in prayer. A mere “FYI” doesn’t come close to the fervent, heartfelt, loving prayer of one saint on behalf of another. And, by the way, whenever I’m asking for prayer please treat it with care…pray and then only share if appropriate; not FYI or even for others’ ears, but for your gracious prayers instead. I promise to do the same!

“The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with” (James 5:16, The Message).



A Week Without Wifi and iPhone…bane or blessing?

My wife and I were away recently for a week off and had no connection to wifi or the internet. We traveled with a group of 10 others and enjoyed meals, walks, sunshine, games, recreation, sharing and laughter, all without any of us tied to our phones or laptops. It was pure joy.

Now we’re “back to reality” and frankly “back to bondage” once again. I’m realizing afresh how liberating it was to not be tied to email, social media, or any form of internet-based work or personal connection. The moment we were within reach of our networks or wifi, our eyes were drawn away from being fully present with one another and focused once again toward the screens before us on our cell phones and/or laptops. It was incredible how fast it happened.

And, it’s really an unfortunate reality today. We’ve become so addicted to staying connected, even when that contact is minimal or filled more with curiosity and comparison than with love and concern. When I got back on Facebook, I realized once again how much I didn’t miss it. As the emails poured into my inbox I recognized my sadness at just how many there were and the life-draining task of clearing the backlog.

If my reality includes ongoing and repetitive response to email, texts, social media, and internet, I’m now convinced more than ever that I will need more frequent breaks. How? I so enjoyed a week without all of it, I’m considering how best to be removed from it more often in the days to come. It’s probably not feasible to give it up completely, so I must decide for myself much more disciplined limits to acquire. I already take a similar break each Sabbath day (from sun down on Saturday to sun down on Sunday), but that’s simply not enough. I need additional “electronics-free” zones that regularly set me free from the constant barrage of email and social media. I need to be released from within myself of manic busyness, popularity contests, and comparisons…and stay focused instead on pursuing a vibrant life with God that’s filled with freedom, joy, peace, and Jesus! How about you?

Do you enjoy the constant state of connectedness that’s available to you each and every moment of the day? Are you more and more engaged in social media in order to stay up or ahead of the game of life? Or are you too tiring of the 24/7 nature of life that the internet, social media, texts, and email lead you to occupy and preoccupy every waking moment of the day? Imagine a life that keeps all of this in better balance and held in proper prospective…you might even notice more, engage more, appreciate more, and ultimately live more abundantly.

Try it and see for yourself! And, whatever you decide, make sure it’s written into your personal rule of life!