PREOCCUPIED? 4 Questions to Ask Yourself
Don’t you hate when you’re trying to talk to someone and they’re totally preoccupied with something else? They might pretend they’re listening, or even attempt to listen, but in reality they’re preoccupied with something other than what you’re saying. (And before I go any further…yes, I’m guilty of this frequently!)
I was reading the story of Esther in the Bible this morning. Esther was the queen of Persia. Haman was the king’s right hand man. He was highly respected and people praised him in the land. Everyone but Mordecai, that is. Mordecai, a Jew, refused to bow down to Haman. And it burned him up inside. At one point in the story, Haman was feeling particularly happy, bragging to his friends and wife about his wealth, his many sons, how the king honored him and had promoted him to the highest position in the government. Then he said something interesting in Esther 5:13. He told them, “But I can’t enjoy any of it when I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the King’s Gate.” You see, Haman was preoccupied with his hatred for Mordecai, the one who denied him the honor he thought he deserved. Preoccupied with one bothersome detail in his life to the point that he could not enjoy the blessings of the other.
Preoccupied. Absorbed and engrossed in one thought to the exclusion of another. It happens to us all the time. So what’s the big deal? What’s wrong with being preoccupied with other things? Some would just call it the art of multitasking. Others call it rude. Or selfish. Or, depending on the situation, dangerous.
So, when we become preoccupied (absorbed and engrossed in one thing to the exclusion of another), I think there are 4 key questions we need to ask:
- What exactly are you preoccupied with? — Try to identify the culprit. Is it something tangible like your phone, computer, TV show, etc.? Or is your preoccupation something deeper like worry, fear, guilt, remorse, etc.?
- How is it affecting you? — This is a tough question, because we want to instantly react by saying, “I’m not affected at all. I’m good. I’m giving you my full attention.” But it’s simply not true. We deceive ourselves into believing that lie. Be willing to ponder this question beyond the surface.
- What does it reveal about you? — Being preoccupied with other things definitely says something about us (at least the majority of the time it does). Does it reveal your shallowness? Insecurity? Pride? Lack of care or concern for something you should be caring for or concerned about?
- What would you rather be preoccupied with? — When it comes right down to it, we miss the significant because we’re preoccupied with the insignificant. And when this happens, we know we’ve blown it. We regret it. But sometimes it’s too late. It’s at this point we must ask ourselves this question. If we come face-to-face with what we really value, we just might get preoccupied with the “right” things.
Haman’s statement is quite telling. He couldn’t enjoy the terrific because he was preoccupied with the trivial. And when the same thing happens to us, it’s time to step back, ask some key questions, and make some significant changes.
Do you ever get preoccupied with insignificant things and miss the significant? How do you respond? Please feel free to share a thought or comment.