Picking Up The Wrong Monkey

I learned a hard lesson the other day on why it is so important to think things through before you jump in to “get her done”. Not that I am opposed to helping when I can, but I have now accepted the fact that I don’t have the answer for everybody. Every opportunity which presents itself where I can assist is not necessarily my monkey to carry. There are some monkeys I simply need to let somebody else pick up. What just happened to me this week is a sad case in point.

About six months ago I upgraded my phone from a Nokia e72 to an LG Optimus E970. The Nokia was a good phone but I needed better access to the internet when traveling. I had just gotten the LG for my wife and it was wonderful. So, I bought another one on ebay and ported my number to the new phone. The old phone went in my top drawer and I left it inactive on my Straight Talk account as a backup.

About a two months ago one of the young men in my church broke his Nokia e72 and was without a phone. Thus, I thought it was a good idea when another of the young men said “Hey Pastor, why don’t you give Chris your old phone. His just died and he really needs one”. Without giving it a second thought I did a noble and good thing. I gave him my old phone. He was happy, I was happy and all the world was at peace once again.

Then the unthinkable happened. I dropped my new phone and the touch screen cracked. After a few frustrating days I knew I had to have a new phone so I went and bought one. The sales clerk easily made the switch to a new Galaxy S III and then tossed out the SIM card from my broken phone. However, at the last moment I decided to keep my old phone and I left the store with both. I was such a happy camper!

That evening, after considering the massive outlay of cash for the new phone, I decided to look into the price of repair for my LG. To my shock, I saw how reasonable it would be. Thus, the next day I mailed my old phone out to Arizona for repair and returned my new phone to the store.  Within minutes I got the cash credited back on my bank card and I happily headed out of the door.

However, something hit me when I was driving back home. I forgot to think through one minor but very important detail. My Nokia e72 was my backup phone and it was not on my account. When I shut down the new phone there was no back-up phone for the sales clerk to port my number to. He had not only deleted my phone, he had also deleted my phone number. It felt like the life was being sucked out of me as I realized I had just lost the number I had been using for the past 20 years!

“Why is that such a big deal?”, you may be asking? Well, this messed up all of my 1200 contacts. It impacted my business cards, letter head, security conformation texts, my bank accounts, credit cards, checking account, etc, etc, etc….  All of these are invalid now because the phone number connected to them is gone. Think of it, all texts, sms, and the like are now unable to find their target. Every app between my phone and computer is unconnected. Every program or account I have on line, every on line purchase, calendar sync, global contact, rocket lawyer contract and political official I know uses my old phone number. Beyond that, every family member, friend and fellow minister around the world are all being told “this number has been disconnected and is no longer in service”. Why? Because I did not take a moment think through what would happen when I gave my phone away!

One simple act that is not well thought out can ended up causing a massive amount of work and trouble. Doing what is good instead of what is best, can send our lives into a black hole of disconnected chaos that will have to be laboriously put back together. The point is that at times, it is best to just give things a bit more thought. Instead of rushing in to rescue every person from every need, think about it first. If you do, many of life’s great difficulties will be avoided. Living can then take on a majestic, peaceful rhythm that is pleasing in so many unsuspecting ways, when we just pause to consider the consequences.

How many monkeys have you picked up in life just because somebody had a need, and you had the answer? I have now learned that some answers are much better off being spoken by somebody else! I have also learned that the monkey you pick up today, that is not yours, will have the tendency to transform itself into a gorilla tomorrow. When all is said and done, it’s always best to pick up only the monkeys with your name on them. Once you have those in place, you will be able to help others pick up their monkeys without destroying all that holds meaning for you. Perhaps this would be a good week to do a monkey check in your life and let go of every one that does not have your name on it. You’ll be better off for it and so will everyone around you! 

2 thoughts on “Picking Up The Wrong Monkey

  1. Bill,
    Wise words born out of a traumatic experience. My French grammar teacher always said to me “tu vas trop vite” = you go too fast. I am learning “patience” in waiting for the right timing, and “reflection” before action. Truly sorry to hear about your situation 😦


  2. Thanks Jo !
    Funny thing is the saga has continued. I got my phone back from the repair shop in Arizona only to discover that they forgot to hook my camera back up. So after a few phone calls and an hour on hold….. it was shipped back out to Arizona for the correct fix yesterday. You gotta love God’s sense of humor in my life. When He wants to drive a point home He REALLY knows how to do it!! Hope you and Rob have a great week! Love you guys! Bill et Esther


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