We all have that one friend who is just HORRIBLE at responding. It doesn’t matter if it’s text, email, Facebook messenger, Snapchat, or any other form of communication. That person is just straight up bad at responding. That’s it. Nothing else needs to be said.
“But wait!” some of you might think. “What if they have a totally legitimate reason for not responding to you?” And I would agree! Sometimes that is the case. Perhaps they were having a deep conversation with someone and didn’t want to interrupt by responding to your text. Perhaps they were trying to focus in class or work and wanted to be faithful to their priorities. Or maybe they were trying to live in the present and be with the people they were surrounded by. There are PLENTY of good reasons for not responding to a text. But why are certain people just so bad at it?
Well for many of you reading this article, that person who is bad at responding is…(insert drumroll here): Me!
Yes! I acknowledge that I am horrendous at responding to texts and emails and have definitely been confronted by friends and family many times. So I began to examine all the instances when I didn’t respond. And the thought came up: “Do these people really need to know my response? Back in the olden days with the Pony Express people wouldn’t get responses for MONTHS. They can survive without me replying for a while.” But as I examined myself and thought more about why I had such a hard time replying, I found that there was a greater issue at hand. For someone who chronically struggles with responding to people, the problem of non-responsiveness can stem from sin.
Let me preface what I’m about to write with this: These are my own thoughts and conclusions. They may or may not be true for you. If they are not true for you, I hope this provides you food for thought. If you find these to be true, I ask that you consider the applications given below.
Why do we not respond?
responding can be so tiring
Life can be really stressful. I mean, there’s a reason the saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” is used so often. Regardless if it’s work or school, life just throws so many problems and situations that sometimes dealing with other things can just push us over the edge. So instead of replying, we put it off. We wait. We wait a bit longer. Until… finally! We feel rested! …And then maybe we respond if it’s not too late.
But do we consider how our actions affects those who are waiting on our response? No, not really. Usually we consider our own personal needs first. We see texts like these:
- I’m tired so I will respond later.
- I’ve had a long day so I will respond when I want.
- It’s been a rough day for me. Will respond later.
At a glance, there seems to be nothing wrong with these statements. People get tired! They need rest! Of course I’m not saying that you shouldn’t rest after a long day. Rest is good and is something that we all need. But if there is a person who needs your response and is waiting on it, we should consider his or her needs in relation to yours. Philippians 2:3-4 says
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Paul directly calls us to “count others more significant than [our]selves.”
Perhaps these aren’t the exact thoughts that we think, but they very well may be the thoughts that creep up in our subconscious and dictate our actions.
responding can be frustrating & Annoying
Ever been in a group chat where the notifications never seem to stop? They just keep going on and on and ON! There’s usually a question that is being asked or an issue that needs to be addressed… Oh wait! But then a tangent is brought up! “Guys did you hear about the free boba?” “Why are we doing this again? What’s going on?” “Hey anyone wanna hangout later today?” “LOL” “Hahaha” ” Insert Emoji here” and then it slowly goes back to the original topic. Then tangent. Then topic.
Or maybe it’s a different situation. Maybe the person you’re talking just doesn’t get what you’re trying to say. You’ve been trying to get a point across but they’re not catching your drift. So you think, “You know what? Forget it. I don’t have time for this.” or even “They’ll just figure it out themselves.” It’s in these everyday situations that our patience is tested and our sinful nature reveals itself. But if we call ourselves Christians, we are not to let our fleshly desires take over here. Imagine if you placed yourself in God’s position: For centuries, the Israelites refused to listen to what He had to say and continually got distracted by the people and things around them.
“They abandoned the house of the LORD, the God of their fathers, and served the Asherim and the idols; so wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their guilt.” 2 Chronicles 24:1
“You who have forsaken Me,” declares the LORD, “You keep going backward So I will stretch out My hand against you and destroy you; I am tired of relenting!” Jeremiah 15:6
Verses like these are all over the Bible because they happened so often! Imagine the extent of patience and love God must have for the nation of Israel. After years of rebellion and mistreatment, he not only forgives them but sends His perfect Son to die on their behalf. If God the Father can endure decades of hostile treatment and continue to love the nation of Israel, surely we as Christians can be patient with each other in a conversation or two.
responding forces us to work
Have you ever lost sleep over a tough decision? Maybe there was no good way to approach it and you waited in order to put it off. Maybe the decision involved choosing between two things that had equal pros and cons, and you couldn’t bring yourself to the decision. So instead you waited.
Has someone ever vent-texted you a very long and complicated situation that they’re struggling through, but you’re trying to fall asleep because you have to wake up early the next day? Or maybe it’s something completely different. Maybe responding to someone’s text forces you to have to finish your work on time and turn it in to them.
In all these situations, responding to people, whether physically or mentally, forces us to work. For some people, work can mean processing copious amounts of information in their brain in order to be at peace with a situation. For others work can mean grinding away at their computer in order to solve a problem. Still, for others, work can mean making the simple day to day choices.
Regardless, responding and replying to people forces us to do more work on our part. But as Christians, what we must remind ourselves is that we weren’t created to be creatures of laziness or sloth. In both the new and old testaments, there is plenty of evidence that God created us to work. Bob Thune at The Gospel Coalition says this:
“Let this sink in: Work is what we were created for.
It’s right there in the Bible, plain as day. God created you to work. And that’s only the beginning of the story! Adam started out tending a garden, but God had much bigger plans in mind.
God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen 1:27-28).
Adam’s dominion over the garden was to expand into dominion over the whole earth. By producing godly offspring and teaching them to work, Adam and Eve were to subdue all of creation. The language of subduing and ruling mirrors what God did in creation: turning chaos into order. Adam and Eve are to turn the whole earth into the Garden of Eden. And it won’t happen by magic, but by concerted effort….
So work was God’s design from the beginning. And the ultimate goal was for every aspect of life and culture to be saturated with the beauty and glory and love of God.”
Makes sense right? Let’s look at the New Testament:
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand,that we should walk in them.
The first half of these verses are probably one of the most referenced Scripture passages. Often times, the following verse is excluded because people either find it unnecessary to include or are satisfied with stopping at the end of verse 9. But Verse 10 further elaborates our story as Christians so much more. Yes, we are saved by grace through faith, but we were also created for good works!
Now I’m not saying that we always need to be working or addressing people’s needs right away. We need rest as well. However, if a pattern develops in our lives where we begin to ignore our responsibilities because of laziness, that is not okay. That does not please God nor does it glorify Him. This brings me to our last point:
responding forces us to be responsible
21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[e] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ (Matthew 25:21)
All the points that are mentioned above can essentially be boiled down to this last point. As Christians, we are called to be faithful in our work and to be good stewards of what has been entrusted to us. How can we do well in our work if we are not responsible? What kind of testimony does it show to others, both Christians and non-Christians, if we show that we lack the discipline to do our work in a timely manner? Brothers and sisters in Christ, if this is something that you find true for yourself, please do not let this deceptive sin sneak past you. Don’t just say that you will try to be better at responding. Actions speak louder than words. Make plans for people to keep you accountable and call you out if necessary. Let us not make excuses for sinful behavior, but push each other to grow in holiness.