Tyranny of the Urgent
I’m going to introduce a new series this Sunday – Making Room. This is an important teaching series because we all need more of God in our lives. Every struggle and every need is best answered by a bit more of God’s guidance and transforming influence in us. The greater influence he has in our lives, the better we will live. Making more room for God may, in the end, be our biggest challenge.
But how do we make more room for God in our lives? For thousands of years, God’s people have learned and practiced ways to allow God to have more influence. In this new series we’ll look at four vital practices that allow God to transform our characters and guide us in how we approach our circumstances. By practicing any or all of these four spiritual activities, we’ll discover that it is possible and thrilling to allow God more say in our lives.
In my message Sunday I’ll share about an idea I first learned about some 35 years ago when I was using a discipleship program. It was a game changer for me. I found it in a little 31 page booklet that you can still buy for $2 online by Charles Hummel called The Tyranny of the Urgent. Let me unpack this a bit more.
I was at a meeting last week with a terrific leader in our city, and when I asked him how he was doing, he said he needed 32 hours in a day. At first I agreed, then I thought, “No!” I just need to better use the 24 hours that I have. There’s always more I want to do, people that I want to be with, tasks and projects to finish, books to read and I’d really like to have more time to sleep and exercise.
Tyranny of the urgent reminds us that our struggle is an issue of priorities. We allow “urgent” stuff to become a priority over the “important.” But here’s the trick. The urgent is seldom important! The urgent non-important stuff crowds out the important stuff.
Here’s what I mean by urgent. It’s the daily stuff like shopping, watching our favorite shows or games, dishes, dusting and laundry, checking FaceBook or taking the kids to some event that seems urgent. Urgent stuff can be the things others think are urgent and expect us to do…now! All these can be good and at some point might need to get done, but they are seldom important. They won’t make a real difference and won’t affect eternity in any way. We make the urgent seem important to the neglect of what is really important. That’s an issue of priorities.
What’s important? That’s a critical question we have to figure out. The important can include consistent time with God or making room for God. Or it includes time with our spouse and kids. Taking care of ourselves is important and that includes rest, exercise and having down time. If we don’t care for ourselves, we won’t be able to care for others. The important is loving God and loving our neighbor as yourself.
And our model is Jesus. Jesus didn’t let the urgent crowd out the important. He would often pray to determine what God considered important. Right at the beginning of his ministry a crowd of people tried to get him to stay longer in their village to heal everyone. He went away alone to pray and determined that wasn’t urgent, but going to the next village was the important priority God had for him (see Mark 1:29-39).
We will spend our time, our money, our energy, our very life on what is we think is important. The trick is that often our “important” really isn’t. It is just urgent. To honor God and live well we need to be very intentional to give ourselves to the truly important and say “no” more often to the “urgent.”