You have heard of cold calling—unsolicited random dialing of as many people as possible for the purpose of selling some product or service. But recently, I participated in another form of cold calling.
When I returned home from a recent trip to North Carolina I had bills and laundry and messages on my answering machine, so my intention was to make short work of the callbacks. Since I am not nearly the president of Berkshire Hathaway, my contacts were mostly of a personal nature rather than business. These were people who love me and whom I love.
I raced through the recordings and jotted down the names, and was bent on seeing how expeditiously I could discharge my responsibilities toward each person. I confess I was not so much interested in talking to them as in having talked to them. They were regarded as items on a to-do list. The goal was to deflect the ball out of my court and into theirs, where it could preferably stay until I was caught up on a few things around the house.
Now I am not suggesting that it is sin to desire to accomplish tasks in an efficient manner, even if that task is talking to your friends. But I had to check myself at some point when I noticed I was in danger of reducing friendship to the measure of one of several proverbial plates to twirl on sticks. I realized that a phone call in this utilitarian state of mind was veering toward meaninglessness. I was deviously planning on engaging in a few pleasantries, inquiring as to their wellbeing and that of their significant others, and taking the nearest exit. It was cold calling, not warm-calling.
Then I got an idea. How about if I took a moment to pray for my list of people before picking up the phone? The apostle Paul did something similar, and surely, he was a busy man. His habit was to pray for people when they came to mind:
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you” (Philippians 1:3).
I believe this is the ticket. Holding onto one’s friends merely by being prompt with phone calls so as not to lose them is nothing but managing friendship. What emptiness that is. How meaningless to merely be “successful” at friendship when there is no lifting them up to God once in a while. A prayer coupled with a phone call is as different from a phone call as lightning is from a lightning bug. And it costs but a moment of our precious time.