“Aim for nothing. You will hit it everytime!”
Without constant monitoring of goals and mission, I will most likely wander, spending entire days doing things that are not of primary importance. This will illustrate my point. Technology is useful and, as most of you know, I enjoy finding ways to apply technology to ministry purposes; a worthy effort, but not a primary purpose of my life. My mission as a local church pastor is not to tinker endlessly with computers, trying to coax the latest application to peak performance.
- What are first importance issues for you? Do you know?
Defining a mission, setting goals, and committing ourselves to regular evaluations; are the only ways to avoid drifting along, hit or miss, doing what we enjoy instead of what is important! I know that God has given me responsibility to lead in a local church: caring for His people, teaching the Word, and encouraging others to serve Him faithfully. I must spend time in study – everyday! Whether I’m in the mood to read or not, I must, for reading feeds my mind so that I can teach. Caring and encouraging requires being involved with people. I cannot have an unlisted phone number or disappear from contact with the congregation for days at a time, because being ‘in touch’ is of first line importance.
Individuals, churches, committees, and corporations will not function effectively without a clear statement of mission and the discipline to do the first things first! Asking the question, ‘why am I doing this?’ is an important exercise that keeps us focused! Stephen Covey, in his great book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, points out that many of us don’t get to the important because we feel that we must respond to the urgent. Ever been talking to someone about something really important only to have the phone ring? What is your first inclination? That’s right, almost everyone of us breaks our train of thought to answer the phone! Covey says, “Urgent matters are often visible. They press on us, they insist on action. They’re often popular with others… pleasant, fun to do… and unimportant!” Urgent matters require that we react. Important matters demand that we plan, purpose, and act to do the first things, first.
Believe it or not, one of the keys to getting the most accomplished, is the willingness to leave some things undone!
Jesus lays down this marker about priorities for all of us. Seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33, NIV) What are the ‘all things’ He refers to? Food, drink, and clothing. That’s right, even our daily provisions are not first line issues. Now there’s a real challenge for us. We spend a lot of time focusing on acquiring and guarding resources to assure that we have enough ‘stuff.’ And yet, Jesus promises, if we put God first, God will see to it that we are clothed and fed! Living that way demands a whole different set of values. Jesus told us “Don’t be greedy! Owning a lot of things won’t make your life safe.” (Luke 12:15, CEV) Do we believe that, I mean, really believe it? If so, it will change our priorities significantly. Much of what our society presses on us as urgent, will no longer be an issue of importance for a disciple of Christ.
For what has God made you responsible? Are you treating His gifts and callings as a matter of first importance?
“So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants.” (Ephesians 5:15-17, The Message)