Yes, there really is enough time to do all that God has for you. But there is a catch: you must understand your priority.
In modern life, we often hear statements such as, “If only I had 30 hours in a day…” or “If only I didn’t have to sleep…”
…then what? We would magically get everything done? No. Intuitively, we know better. The more time we have, the more we would stack on our plates until even the time we had was filled and overrun with more tasks. Those who wish for longer days would be just as stressed and anxious if they received their wish. Neither is hard work itself is not the problem—for our weariness from long hours on an important task is matched by the joy from achieving it.
The basic problem we have with time priority. Notice that I used the singular word “priority” rather than the plural word “priorities.” That was on purpose! The word entered the English language in the 1400’s; at the time, it meant the very first or prior thing. It remained singular until the 1900’s when we began mistakenly pluralizing it as “priorities.” Somehow we thought that if we added an “ies” to the end instead of a “y,” we could create a new reality that would allow us to focus on more than the “first” thing.
The pursuit of “more” leads us on a path of anxiety. Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, argues:
The undisciplined pursuit of more leads to highest point of frustration:
Often, the “What? Everything” McKeown refers to is connected to the demands of others on our time. If not that, it’s letting urgent things crowd out important things from our calendars. Important things fall off our radar, constantly replaced by urgent things. We take another class, take another call, accept another meeting, send another email, read another book, send another text, and check another social media post all while passing over the person who needs help on the side of the road, a friend we could meet with, additional time reading the Word of God, or opportunities to connect to Him through prayer with alone or with others.
What hope do we have? As usual, it starts with Jesus. Just before he went to the cross, he said, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do” (John 17:4). Isn’t that crazy? He barely even left Galilee. He left so much undone. But he did what was most important: he made disciples who could continue making disciples. Discipling is a slow process, but it is quicker than the sum of our lives such that generations of disciples can reproduce while we are still alive. If we all took to discipling seriously, we would see exponential growth in Jesus’ followers in a short time.
As busy as Jesus was, he was never in a hurry. He stopped to deal with the bleeding woman despite the fact Jairus’ daughter was dying (Luke 8:40-56). He stopped to talk to the woman at the well in Samaria for quite a while, even though she was only one person and not a crowd (John 4:5-42). At the urging of the townsfolk, he even decided to stay two days with them (John 4:40). He went away to pray alone (Mark 1:35, 6:46, etc.). It seemed Jesus had only one priority: to do the will of his Father. As he waited early in the morning for instructions from his Father (Mark 1:35), so must we. Only then will we be free from the shackles of the urgent toward the freedom of the important.
If we focus on what is important, we may achieve our highest point of contribution. Greg McKeown has this to say, again from Essentialism:
Disciplined pursuit of less leads to highest point of contribution:
What? Right thing
Why? Right reason
When? Right time
By focusing on the important, we are dealing now with the word “right.” Even so, we must remember there is only one “right” thing we can do at any given time. Take your time. Solomon had this to say:
“Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” – Proverbs 13:11
Solomon uses a word out of his Ecclesiastes playbook: hebel. Hebel literally means vapor, but is more complicated than that. In this context, it could be best to say, “Money gained out of thin air without the character to support it will cause problems for the one who obtains it” (like winning the lottery causes problems for the majority of those who are so unfortunate to win it). Juxtaposed to that is one who partakes in a slow, sustained buildup of wealth that grows along with the character to handle it. With the ability to handle money properly, we can wield it as a weapon against the forces of darkness.
So slow down this holiday season. Relax. Read. Sleep. Worship in all you do. If you don’t prioritize in your own life, someone else will. In fact, if you don’t prioritize in your life, someone else already is—you may want to check your calendar!
Greg is the President of OPEN USA. He used his education to work as a tentmaker in the Middle East for 8.5 years seeking to plant a church amongst a least-reached people group. Currently back in the USA with his wife and children, they aim to return to finish what the LORD used them to start.
To learn more about B4T, read Business for Transformation by Patrick Lai.