We all do this.
No matter how attentive we may be, we miss many big things.
Praying this morning, I realized I passed up the chance to meet a new group of people because I felt overwhelmed with tasks and didn't have a face shot photo. Only today, weeks after the invitation and my rejection of the offer, did I realize what I'd done.
A colleague here in the Disaster Area got a blistering letter from a pastor. The pastor came down to put on a VBS for a church a few weeks ago. The visiting pastor believed that the church should be grateful, empty rooms for the VBS, provide particular housing, and have the colleague be present often. What she didn't realize is that my colleague serves a devastated congregation and his work is with them, not the visiting mission team. The mission team pastor paid attention to her team, her idea of a gift, her sense of how things should be done. Rather than realizing her needs were driving the week, she blamed the colleague. Wrong things.
The reality of living and doing ministry down here is this: if you come (and God knows we are grateful and need the help) come self-sustaining and handle your own stuff. The pastors and congregations are busy, exhausted and need to pay attention to their work, not your idea of the mission trip.
A child behaves in a way we don't understand. We grab the first idea we have for coping. Parenting involves pivoting to grasp what is needed for the child. I've learned this over and over with the Casseroles. Attention to the right things helps.
A church member blasts the pastor. What is going on? Could it be the member needs your attention? Is the member worried, anxious, losing hope for his future?
I'm not sure I'll ever get great at paying attention to the right things. I work on seeing and listening. I pray and listen.