Why are we so busy? Maybe my priorities are out of whack.
Recently, we’ve been talking about some of the core issues that cause us to be too busy. Last week we looked at how guilt and thinking you are supposed to be doing everything can be an impetus for our busyness. Today, we want to look at having misplaced priorities.
There have been many times when I have been in the middle of an exceptionally busy season in my life and I step back for a moment and wonder, “How did I get here?” As I look at my schedule, my iMessages, or my inbox, I see that I have said yes to a whole lot of things that I probably shouldn’t have. Truth be told, this could be anything from saying yes to marrying a couple who is a friend of a friend who goes to our church or agreeing to meet with that pastor from Central Jersey for lunch. Neither of those things are wrong, but sometimes I forget to stop and ask, “Should I be doing this?”
When I think about Jesus’ life and ministry, Jesus was busy, but only with the things he was supposed to be doing. Like I said last week, Jesus knew his mission and he stayed on point. He knew that he was supposed to go to certain towns at certain times. He didn’t wait until one town was fixed before he moved on.
Simply stated, Jesus didn’t come to heal the sick and feed the poor (even though he did those things). Jesus came to die on a cross and be raised from the dead, and everything that he did was strategically done towards that end goal. Jesus knew his priorities and stuck with them. He wasn’t swayed, he wasn’t distracted. Even when someone tried to veer him off course, he stuck to his plan.
As we wade through our own swamp of busyness, we need to remember some key concepts.
I must set priorities because I can’t do it all. To think that you can successfully juggle a fulltime job and ten kids while being in charge of the rotary club, managing rental properties, and still being an excellent spouse is bonkers. You cannot do it all! You need to step back, look at your life, and identify what your priorities are.
Think about it this way, most people would say that their family is their priority, but their schedules deceive them. If I looked at your schedule, would I be able to say, “Yes, clearly your family is top priority,” or would I suggest your work, sports, or hobbies are more important? We need to set our priorities in stone in our minds, realizing that they change and vary depending on our season of life. To ignore this concept is to embrace arrogance. Remember, it is always better to do three things well than seven things poorly.
I must set priorities if I am to serve others effectively. Setting my priorities isn’t just about making sure that I don’t lose my marbles. Setting my priorities is also about making sure that I serve others well. If I am so spread thin agreeing to do other things that my family is an afterthought, I won’t be serving or loving them well. Instead, they will get the bottom of my emotional tank. Typically, this means that my fuse with them will be short and I will get annoyed by the most mundane of things. When my priorities are out of whack, those closest to me get the brunt of the fallout.
I must allow others to set their own priorities. This is similar to what we talked about last week, but I do not think that it can be overstated. Realize that each person is uniquely made by God, each couple is different, and each family has its own facets. One family might love and prioritize being on the beach every weekend. Just because you don’t prioritize this doesn’t mean that they are wrong. Perhaps this is where and how they get the most quality time together. Let other people set their own priorities and don’t judge them according to the ones that you have established for yourself.
Schedule your priorities, don’t prioritize your schedule. Figure out the 3 or 5 things you are supposed to do and do them. Don’t worry about all the things that you aren’t doing. Somehow they will work out. For me, that means that I want to prioritize my relationship with God, my relationship with my bride, and my relationship with my kids above being a pastor. Then, as a pastor, I prioritize preaching, leadership development, and developing communities on mission. Everything else can fall to the floor rather than me being a big mess of stress.
What are your priorities? Take some time this week to schedule them.