I learned a valuable spiritual lesson at a recent tennis lesson.
While learning to approach the net and put the ball away better, I missed a shot I should have gotten, and my coach asked, “What were you thinking about?” I told him that I was thinking about what he was doing. And he quickly rebuffed me with, “You’re not supposed to be thinking about what I’m doing. You’re supposed to be thinking about what you’re going to do!”
His instruction arrested my attention, for I quickly realized that many of the times I was caught flat-footed and not ready to hit the ball back in time were times when I was thinking about what the other player was doing rather than what I was going to do. And so when the ball got to me, I wasn’t ready to hit it back well, and I would miss hit.
As I’ve worked on paying more attention to what I’m going to do with the ball, rather than getting absorbed with what the other guy is doing, my tennis game has been rapidly improving.
And I found a lesson for life in this instruction.
Do you ever spend time worrying about what the other guy is doing instead of paying more attention to what you should be doing?
It happens in the workplace. One worker gets upset with another and spends all her time fussing and fuming about the other’s actions, instead of becoming an understanding heart that could bring healing to the situation. Or a family member acts inconsiderately and other family members spend time criticizing and judging rather than bringing the touch of love into the family environment and improving relations with compassion and care.
In working with other people, we have to note their thoughts and actions to be aware of consequences, but the bulk of our time and effort should be spent on our conduct. What are we doing? Are we responding with love and care? Do we have a healing response ready for whatever comes our way?
The more we pay attention to what we are doing, and less to the other guy, the more likely we’ll be in a healing state of mind that makes a positive difference. We won’t be caught flat-footed and issue callous knee-jerk responses that hurt and harm. We’ll be ready to respond with love and able to score far more positive points on the daily court of Life. It’s a winning strategy.
“Whoever wants to embrace life and see the day fill up with good, Here’s what you do: Say nothing evil or hurtful” I Peter 3:10, MSG.