SUMMER CONNECTIONS: Urgent & Important

You may have seen this before:

Urgent and Important Matrix. Shows four states a task can be in: Not Important, Not Urgent; Not Important, Urgent; Important, Not Urgent; Important and Urgent.

I think I first saw it at some time management seminar.  I know it’s not a Biblical model or anything, but it is something that has come to mind again and again over the summer.  It is as if the Holy Spirit has been subtly but persistently asking me to look again at how I spend my days.

Maybe it is because I have spent the vast majority of my life in schools, but I tend to operate best when I have deadlines and due dates.  As soon as something has a due date, it has a sense of urgency.  And, like most people, I pay the most attention to things that I classify as urgent.

I’m pretty good at meeting deadlines.  I like to feel efficient. The problem is that, unlike this little chart, I don’t always distinguish between important and not important.  I just hop on the treadmill of urgency and get things done.  Getting an annual physical and getting my roots done can both seem urgent.  Renewing the house insurance and making sure we have milk in the fridge can both occupy top spots on my to do list.

So I spend most of my time in the top two zones on the chart, but as soon as I get some down time I often leap straight to the ‘Not urgent/not important’ zone:  catching up on a favourite TV show, reading a novel, browsing online bargains.  It’s so nice to relax in this zone!  And there is nothing wrong with taking a break, but I am beginning to see how little time I spend in the ‘Not urgent but important’ zone.

This is the zone where I slow down enough to really pay attention to my soul, to take unhurried time to ponder Scripture, to listen to God’s still small voice.  In the past I used to try and add these things to my ‘Urgent’ list, but spiritual growth doesn’t work like that.  I can’t zoom through a daily devotional while eating breakfast and sorting mail and expect to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).  It may sound strange to say that spending time with God is not urgent; what I mean is that it cannot be rushed or treated like just another thing to check off my list.

As we all gear up toward fall and schedules are set and activities begin again, I want to be more intentional about how I spend my time.  I am praying that God would grant me the grace to see things in light of their ultimate importance rather than just their apparent urgency.

Some Scriptures I’ve been pondering:

Proverbs 4:23   Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

2 Cor 4:18  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Luke 5:16  But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

Prayer:

Dearest Lord, Thank you for the freedom to choose how I spend my days.  I pray that you would grant me the wisdom and self-discipline to choose well.  Help me not to be blinded by the never-ending list of deadlines and due dates, but help me to see as You see.  May I increasingly focus on what is truly important.

Contributed by Kim Grant

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