Friday, December 3, 2010

Caring by Phone

But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; (James 1:19b NAS)

On the Telephone"Technical support, how can I help you?"

"Well, I have a problem using your software," said Mr. Brown in a not so friendly tone. "Every time I access one of my application databases, it would just crash on me."

"Can you tell me what you saw on the screen when that happened? Was there any error message?"

"I don't know!" Mr. Brown exclaimed, sounding angrier than before. "Do you expect me to write down the message with the error codes? I can't even capture the screen because it had already crashed!"

That was the kind of telephone conversations I get frequently while I was still working as a helpdesk technical support staff for a software corporation some years ago. Helpdesk support was not something fun, and I was often stressed. In fact, for a period of time I was near suffering from telephonophobia—the fear of telephones or reluctance to make or take phone calls.

In my case, it was not so serious to the point of failing to respond appropriately in a telephone conversation, but every time when the phone rang, I would get a chill down my spine. Inside of me was an immediate sense of withdrawal, seeking desperately to avoid receiving another telephone call. Sadly, however, that was part and parcel of my job. In effect, it was not actually the job that bothered me. It was the people I spoke to that caused such distress—people who simply refuse to make any effort to understand how things work and prefer to speak harshly. These days, I only make and receive phone calls when necessary, maybe because I am more comfortable texting than speaking on the phone or maybe it is just my tendency as a writer.

As a tool for communication, the telephone is undoubtedly very useful. How we use such a tool, however, is what really matter. In a helpdesk environment, a telephone answering service can be used to delay customers from getting to a ‘real’ person until he or she has selected multiple number options from the keypad. Such an approach although is effective in filtering who can get support, it can also frustrate the customer because of the time wasted on waiting and the possibility of a dropped line or redirection to a recording. At times, we may also receive calls that we feel is a waste of time, such as telesales and telemarketing calls.

As servants of the Lord, therefore, let us not spend too much time on unfruitful telephone conversations. Instead, let us use this tool for the Lord. Whenever needed, let us not hesitate to pick up the phone to make a call to care for another or take a call to talk to the person who is in need. We can pray and minister to the person over the phone and speak words of care and encouragement or provide spiritual counsel. When on the telephone, let us be good listeners to hear the needs of others and ponder carefully how we should speak to console, give advice or address the need of the other (James 1:19). Rather than be like the customer who is too quick to anger, let us hear carefully what is spoken and clarify if necessary, lest we drift away from our intended purpose and cause a souring of relationship instead.

Just as we make calls to speak to our loved ones when they are away or if they are staying afar, let us do the same for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who need encouragement. Let us not neglect to take time to call our friends to catch up and show our care that they may through us desire to draw closer to the Lord and know more of Him.

Dear Lord, thank You for the telephone that enables us to verbally speak and express ourselves to another, even far remote. Help us Lord not to hesitate to use such a tool when the time calls for us to make or take a call in caring and ministering to another. Enable us Lord to be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger. Remind us always Lord, not to waste too much time on unfruitful conversations or drift away from our intended purpose to risk causing the souring of relationships due to careless or thoughtless speech.

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