I have this problem that I know at least a few other people can relate to. I know this because I've talked about it with them. We've yet to come to any definitive conclusions as to how to solve this problem, but we've acknowledged that it can make life feel challenging. The problem takes on a variety of forms but one common thread is this: urgency.
Have you ever been in a situation in which you need to complete multiple tasks, and you feel like all of them are urgent? What do you do? How do you decide what gets your attention and when?
I must admit, I'm not always great at making these kinds of decisions. It is not uncommon for me to make a list of things as they come to mind and then simply do the things in whatever order I wrote them down, even if it seems somewhat random. I suppose I like to think maybe there is a reason I thought of the things on that list in the order that I did and I'd rather not have to continually rethink what I should do next.
Honestly this system tends to work out fairly well for me most of the time. However, I still find myself struggling sometimes to know how to handle that nagging feeling that I might be choosing the wrong thing. I'll see something farther down on the list and wonder, should I be doing that? Is it more urgent?
In his book The Common Rule, Justin Whitmel Earley writes:
"The usual life in America leans toward busting yourself with things that seem urgent, but friendships will never seem urgent. The most important things never are until it's too late."
It's interesting to me that often a big part of what drives my decisions about what to do in a variety of situations is to consider what feels most urgent. Merriam-Webster defines "urgent" as "calling for immediate attention". This definition begs the question, what actually does need my immediate attention and what can wait? Also just because something can wait, does that mean it should wait?
I just finished reading a book called "12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You" by Tony Reinke and it has got me thinking quite a lot about the social internet and the way technology has impacted much of life - especially our relationships. True lasting relationships take time to develop. But now that we can interact in real time with just about anyone anytime, it's almost like we think we now have the capacity to manufacture and maximize all of our relationships. To get the most out of them because we have easy access to them all the time.
But are we getting the most out of them? Truly?
The example in this book that really hit me was how the author described life online a bit like having "whiplash". If you are on social media, or if you have spent much time online doing anything, think about how this might work: you see little snippets of people's lives - a happy announcement here, some hard news there, and a funny story in between... but now imagine if for each of these snippets, you instead had a conversation with the person who is sharing. Wouldn't you feel like you needed some time to take in what you're hearing? To maybe respond in some thoughtful way, whether by cheering, or comforting, or laughing with the person?
Relationships by nature are meant to take time. When we try to do relationships without investing time, it just doesn't work very well. I remember hearing two moms talk about relationships on a podcast called "All the Mom Things". In their conversation, they pointed out that relationships with others are not a Band-Aid, they're something ordained by God. The Bible must assume we will be living in relationships with other people, because there are all kinds of instructions about how we are to interact with others.
Oddly - or maybe not so oddly - I'm not sure the Bible gives too many instructions about how to determine what is urgent or not. When you think about it, Jesus didn't seem to really operate by the principle of doing what is most urgent. At least not in the same terms as we might think. (For example, waiting to go see Lazarus until after he had died?!)
Maybe this problem of urgency doesn't need to be as big of a problem as I make it. I definitely have not yet figured out how to be free from "the tyranny of the urgent". But I think prayer is probably a key part of getting there. And I'm pretty sure it's also the only way to stay there.
Pray with me...
... God, may the ACSD community be free from the tyranny of the urgent
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
... Lord, may our relationships with each other be infused with Your deep love
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
... Father, open the eyes of all who are in leadership to see what is most important in Your sight
Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long. Psalm 25:4-5
Above: This display of artwork by some of our WCA elementary students reminds me that when there are many different things calling for my attention, I would do well to remember the turtle - trusting God as I do one thing at a time, slow and steady.
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and pray for Alliance Christian School District! Lord willing, I plan to publish a new blog post weekly on Wednesdays throughout the school year. Feel free to subscribe (at the bottom of this page) if you'd like to be notified each time a new blog post has been published. We also have a prayer team that is always open for new pray-ers to join. If you'd like to learn more, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
~ Carrie Warner, ACSD Prayer Team Coordinator
Soli Deo Gloria To God alone be the glory