Monday, June 14, 2010

Prioritizing What is Important.

The urgent vs. the important... no they do not necessarily go hand in hand.  Often, in fact, they are in a struggle against each other.  For example: I fix dinner and sit down to enjoy it with my family when the phone rings.  We all stop what we are doing and wonder, "should someone answer that"?

  Eating dinner with my family uninterrupted is important yet the phone ringing seems urgent.  So how do we determine what is urgent and what is important?

 "Our nature is to choose what seems urgent because we react immediately rather than thinking about the choice we have and determining the best thing to do." - Jill Savage

In her book, A Mother's Time ,Elise Arndt says:

"The urgent matters of life are those that demand our immediate response, the things that constantly bid for our attention. They give no consideration to what is presently being done. They include annoying interruptions at the wrong time for the wrong reason and the pressing needs of people around us. These are the urgent matters of life.
While the urgent continually begs for our attention, the important keeps silent. It patiently waits for us to take notice. While the urgent seeks us, the important waits to be sought by us. The important aspects of life take discipline to perform, while the urgent are accomplished on impulse. We live in constant tension between the two, don't we? Filling the needs of the moment causes us to become weary. We blame hard work for our anxiety. In reality, it is not hard work that produces stress, but doubts and misgivings about what we are doing. We have become slaves to the urgent."

The urgent  tends to distract us from that which is important.  I know in our home the phone and the computer are time suckers for that which is truly worthy of our time.  I am slowly learning to ignore the phone.  I have a ringer on/off switch and a voice mail system so I will not miss any messages.  I can then focus my attention on that which is important, the little boys who call me Mommy, the nap that is needed in order to grow this baby inside me, the family movie night we have had scheduled for a week.  When I have time, and those that are important to me do not need me at the moment, then I can go back, listen to messages and call back those that need to hear back from me.

The same goes for the computer.  We do not have television (just a TV to watch movies on but no cable or channels... only static) yet I have found that the computer can equally suck time away.  I hear that familiar "ding-dong" that tells me I have new email and I pop out of my chair to see who is emailing me.  Maybe it is a new comment on my blog (*drools with excitement*) or Amazon emailing me to tell me the new books I have ordered are on their way.  Maybe it is one of the 35 blogs I subscribe to notifying me of wonderful organizational tips, tantalizing my taste buds with new recipes, or bringing laughter to my soul with life's antics... whatever the case may be, I need to evaluate if I have the time to invest in such a distraction or is their something/someone more important that needs my attention right now.  For example: I have been known to say "hold on" various times to my children while I finish a blog post, I have had to go to the bathroom and put it off until it was unbearable so I could finish researching something online, and I burnt cookies this morning because I was checking my email.

Please join me this week as I seek God's gift of discernment when  deciding what is urgent and what is important.  Once we are able to distinguish between the two we will be more effective in our decision making.  So the challenge this week will be to step back and discern rather than react.  Let me know how you are doing and any pointers you may have to offer.  Thanks for walking this journey with me... may the Lord bless you as you strive to be more like Him.


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