A couple days ago I heard the question, in a leadership context: 'If knowing and focusing on what is most important is so basic and so crucial, why is it so rare?'
When we stop and think for a few moments, we can usually understand very quickly what the greatest priorities are for our particular context. As I think about what it means to be a good dad or a good pastor, I can very easily articulate what 2 or 3 things I need to prioritize to bring that about. I know exactly how to spend my time as a pastor in order to lead the church well.
So why is it routinely a struggle in practice to actually spend my time in that way?
There are many reasons, but what it all boils down to is lazyness. Because I am solely responsible for my own time. Therefore, if I am not consistently giving myself to the things that matter the most, it is because I am not disciplining myself to do so: maybe I am doing only the good instead of doing the best. Often I will do what is easier and quicker instead of what is harder and takes longer. (After all, it allows me to check off more tasks and feel more productive.)
But the bottom line is that it is up to me to do what is most important. I only do the things I choose. (This is true for all of us, by the way. People who are 'too busy' are busy doing things of their choosing. I'm not aware of a single exception.) As someone has said, 'If you do not control your time, someone else will.'
It has been a good couple of weeks as I have taken a lot of time to think through not only what matters most, but what habits can I begin to cultivate so that what matters most is what gets my best time and energy. There are several:
1. make sure I get enough sleep: 7.5 - 8 hrs every night. If I don't, then my attitude, spiritual health, relational ability and work effectiveness all suffer.
2. know God. Whatever else I do, the habit of cultivating the consciousness of God's presence & love, and submitting myself under him is absolutely crucial.
3. prepare well for preaching well: spend appropriate time not only preparing each sermon, but being immersed in Scripture so that - as Spurgeon said - my very blood is Bibline.
4. invest in church leaders, both relationally and in leadership development.
Imagine what a church would look like when its pastor is physically and emotionally energized, knows God well, preaches God's Word compellingly and with credibility, and commits himself routinely to building into the leaders. Any pastor who cannot do that should find a new job. Including me.
So, reader.... what is most important to you? Are you giving yourself to these things?