Important vs. Urgent

Before reading the next paragraph, please answer the following three-part question.

 What is the single most significant thing you could begin doing regularly that would: (1) enrich your spiritual life? (2) create a better atmosphere for your family? (3) make you more effective at your work?

Now that you have named this vital and specific thing that would make your life better, defend your choice to omit that thing from your schedule today.

I can hear some of the replies now: “But I’m just too busy for that today.” “A crisis has already thrown my day into a tailspin.” “This is our busy season.” “The baby is sick.” “If you only knew the pressure I am under!”

All of us have urgent things that will have to be attended to today– phone calls, homework, appointments, deadlines, meals to prepare, interruptions, etc. But some of us will also do the things you named in answering the questions earlier — like reading Scripture, praying, telling someone “I love you,” helping children with schoolwork or parents with chores, planning next week’s big presentation, or making three extra calls.

One difference in people who tend to life’s really important things and those who simply react to events and live the scripts others write is discernment. Some look ahead to a desirable goal and take steps to get there. Others simply “get by” and “roll with the flow.”

In contemporary American society, it is absurdly easy to fall into the activity trap. We can think that being busy is being productive. We equate having done huge amounts of unimportant things with having done something important.

Moving quickly and efficiently is important only if your movement is in the direction of a praiseworthy goal. Since you took the time at the start of this piece to name specific steps toward noble ends, why not take the time now to figure out how to perform them today?

You’ll probably have to cut out some waste and cancel some foolishness, but you will feel better for it. You will have started practicing discernment between things that really matter in life and second-rate distractions.

 

From “The Anchor” – March 23, 1997

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Filed under Jimmy Shaw, Religion

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