Galvin and Associates

Watching the News vs. Making the News



Last month I traveled to Jerusalem for a board meeting at the Caspari Center. My wife was free to join me on this trip and it was her first time in Israel. When we were packing she asked if she should bring her umbrella. I told her, “No, you won’t be needing that in Israel.” But November is the beginning of the rainy season in the Middle East. It rained several times each day for the first five days of our trip. So much for looking like a husband who knows what he’s doing.

Then, Israel attacked Gaza and called up 75,000 reserves in preparation for a ground war. We were sitting in our hotel lobby the evening that Hamas shot a rocket over Jerusalem, a city previously thought to be out of range of rocket fire from Gaza. Nobody knew what to do when we heard the warning siren. We found out the next day the rocket overshot the city and narrowly missed an Arab village.

We were scheduled to have some friends drive us to the Dead Sea the next day, which involves driving through the West Bank. That morning, we received a text message from them suggesting it would be wiser to cancel the trip given everything that was going on. Kathe and I had to figure out what to do with our suddenly free day. We were sitting in our hotel room watching CNN for a while. Because it was still the Sabbath, most of the shops were closed, the train was not running, and many residents of the city were at home.

I had to figure out something else that we could do. We were within walking distance of the Old City. While most of the shops and tours would be closed, I knew the Muslim quarter would be open for business and bubbling with activity. So we dressed for a long walk.

When we passed through the Damascus gate, I noticed a man with a videocam taking B-roll footage of a shopkeeper unlocking his shop. As we turned a corner and started walking down the street, Kathe tugged on my arm and said, “Look, isn’t that Christiane Amanpour next to you?” I turned to my right and recognized her immediately. She was walking slowly and talking to the open space in front of her. I look further ahead and saw the small film crew recording her news story. Kathe and I discreetly moved to the left to get out of the shot.

Here is a photo that Kathe took a few minutes later.

Christiane Amanpour

I decided that there had to be some kind of life lesson in this experience. We had a choice that morning of sitting in our hotel room and watching the news or moving out into life and seeing the news being made. We all have the same fundamental choice as we go about living our life. Here are a couple of provocative thoughts that might be useful to you.

Lean into the uncertainty
Kathe and I could have stayed in our hotel room, watched CNN all day, and waited until nightfall when the city’s restaurants would reopen. I felt uncertain about what we should do. Staying at the hotel was certainly less risky, but we decided to venture into the Old City anyway.

If you play it too safe in life you will miss many adventures. Is there any area of your life where you are currently playing it too safe?

Move to where the action is
Kathe and I had to leave our room and walk more than a mile to get to the part of the city that was open and alive. We moved toward the action. Sometimes I call this “playing in traffic.” It’s moving from where you are to a place with more opportunities and potential.

What would it mean for you to “play in traffic” in your current context? Are you allowing yourself to remain stuck in a rut?

Intently observe what is happening
If Kathe hadn’t pointed it out, I would’ve cluelessly walked right past the CNN news reporter. As we stopped to watch the film crew do retakes of the news segment, we noticed that very few other people walking by noticed Christiane Amanpour or the film crew. It’s almost impossible to spot new opportunity if we are not paying attention to what is happening around us.

What new things are happening around you? What is preventing you from paying closer attention to your environment?



  1. […] me as I continue to learn what it means to live missionally.  You can read Jim’s entire blog post here.  I’ll add a couple of my own observations at the […]