My guess is that paying bills on time is a small part of that plan, so focusing on them today? Your neighbor, a single mother with two kids, could use more friends in her life, and to be frank, so could you. So when her toddler splits open his knee and needs stitches asap? Where the urgent and the important collide It gets ugly when the urgent and the important head-butt in a crash collision, and the twisted cacophony makes it awfully difficult to distinguish between the two. The urgent looks like the important, and vice versa.

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Original by Charles E. Hummel Have you ever wished for a thirty-hour day? Surely this extra time would relieve the tremendous pressure under which we live. Our lives leave a trail of unfinished tasks.

Unanswered letters, unvisited friends, unwritten articles, and unread books haunt quiet moments when we stop to evaluate. We desperately need relief. But would a thirty-hour day really solve the problem? Nor will the passage of time help us catch up. Children grow in number and age to require more of our time. Greater experience in profession and church brings more exacting assignments.

So we find ourselves working more and enjoying it less. Jumbled Priorities? When we stop to evaluate, we realize that our dilemma goes deeper than shortage of time; it is basically the problem of priorities.

Hard work does not hurt us. We all know what it is to go full speed for long hours, totally involved in an important task. The resulting weariness is matched by a sense of achievement and joy. Not hard work, but doubt and misgiving produce anxiety as we review a month or year and become oppressed by the pile of unfinished tasks.

We sense uneasily that we may have failed to do the important. We confess, quite apart from our sins, "We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; and we have done those things which we ought not to have done. It often returns to haunt and rebuke me by raising the critical problem of priorities. We live in constant tension between the urgent and the important.

The problem is that the important task rarely must be done today or even this week. Extra hours of prayer and Bible study, visit with that non-Christian friend, careful study of an important book: these projects can wait. But the urgent tasks call for instant action--endless demands; pressure every hour and day. The momentary appeal of these tasks seems irresistible and important, and they devour our energy. Can You Escape? Is there any escape from this pattern of living? The answer lies in the life of our Lord.

On the night before He died, Jesus made an astonishing claim. In the great prayer of John 17 He said, "I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do" verse 4.

How could Jesus use the word "finished"? His three year ministry seemed all too short. For every ten withered muscles that had flexed into health, a hundred remained impotent. The Gospel records show that Jesus worked hard.

After describing a busy day Mark writes, "That evening, at sundown, they brought to Him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered about the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons" Mark On another occasion the demand of the ill and maimed caused Him to miss supper and to work so late that His disciples thought He was beside Himself Mark One day after a strenuous teaching session, Jesus and His disciples went out in a boat.

What a picture of exhaustion. Yet His life was never feverish; He had time for people. He could spend hours talking to one person, such as the Samaritan woman at the well. His life showed a wonderful balance, a sense of timing. Jesus did not ruin His gifts by haste. Whiteham observes: "Here in this Man is adequate purpose We cannot admire the poise and beauty of this human life, and then ignore the things that made it.

Mark observes that " By this means He warded off the urgent and accomplished the important. What could have been more important than the urgent message from Mary and Martha, "Lord, he whom You love is ill" John ? So when He heard that he was ill, He stayed two days longer in the place where He was" John ,6.

What was the urgent need? Obviously to prevent the death of his beloved brother. So Lazarus was allowed to die. Later Jesus revived him as a sign of His magnificent claim, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live" John It gave Him a sense of direction, set a steady pace, and enabled Him to do every task God assigned. And on the last night He could say, "I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.

Freedom from the tyranny of the urgent is found in the example and promise of our Lord. At the end of a vigorous debate with the Pharisees in Jerusalem, Jesus said to those who believed in Him: "If you continue in My Word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free Truly, truly, I say to you, every one who commits sin is a slave to sin So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed John Are we letting Him free us from the tyranny of the urgent?

He points the way: "If you continue in my Word. Forsyth once said, "The worst sin is prayerlessness. But the root of all sin is self-sufficiency--independence from God.

How much of our service is characterized by "going it alone"? Concerning a dependent relationship with God, Donald Baillie says: "Jesus lived His life in complete dependence upon God, as we all ought to live our lives. But such dependence does not destroy human personality.

Man is never so truly and fully personal as when he is living in complete dependence upon God. This is how personality comes into its own. This is humanity at its most personal. Like the time-out in a football game, it enables us to catch our breath and fix new strategy. As we wait for directions the Lord frees us from the tyranny of the urgent. He shows us the truth about Himself, ourselves, and our tasks. He impresses on our minds the assignments He wants us to undertake. The need itself is not the call; the call must come from the God who knows our limitations.

For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust" Psalm It is not God who loads us until we bend or crack with an ulcer, nervous breakdown, heart attack, or stroke. These come from our inner compulsions coupled with the pressure of circumstances. The modern businessman recognizes this principle of taking time out for evaluation.

When Greenwalt was president of DuPont, he said, "One minute spent in planning saves three or four minutes in execution. If an executive is too busy to stop and plan, he may find himself replaced by another man who takes time to plan. If the Christian is too busy to stop, take spiritual inventory, and receive his assignments from God, he becomes a slave to the tyranny of the urgent. He may work day and night to achieve much that seems significant to himself and others, but he will not finish the work God has for him to do.

A quiet time of meditation and prayer at the start of the day refocuses our relationship with God. Recommit yourself to His will as you think of the hours that follow. In these unhurried moments list in order of priority the tasks to be done, taking into account commitments already made. A competent general always draws up his battle plan before he engages the enemy; he does not postpone basic decisions until the firing starts.

But he is also prepared to change his plans if an emergency demands it. But be open to any emergency interruption or unexpected person who may call. You may also find it necessary to resist the temptation to accept an engagement when the invitation first comes over the telephone.

No matter how clear the calendar may look at the moment, ask for a day or two to pray for guidance before committing yourself. Surprisingly the engagement often appears less imperative after the pleading voice has become silent. In addition to your daily quiet time, set aside one hour a week for spiritual inventory. Write an evaluation of the past, record anything God may be teaching you and plan objectives for the future.

Also try to reserve most of one day each month for a similar inventory of longer range. Often you will fail. Ironically, the busier you get the more you need this time of inventory, but the less you seem to be able to take it.

You become like the fanatic, who, when unsure of his direction, doubles his speed. And frenetic service for God can become an escape from God.


Charles Hummel Quotes



Priorities: Tyranny of the Urgent, Christian Basics Bible Studies


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