Mar 21, 2022
Our schedules are packed. There is more going on than ever in the world, and it is easier to get sucked into busyness than it is to give our attention to an intentional, well-focused life. The culture of hurry is destructive to our very selves, and in order to change, we must not simply expect to grow a little better at a time. Instead, you must “ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life,” as theologian Dallas Willard once said.
Looking through solutions, you will see a variety of perspectives of how to deal with busyness and hurry. There is time management, developing margin, stillness, and more. I’ve spent time working through many of these myself. Today, consider just one solution, which is that of prioritization.
Ponder this quote from Martin Luther: “I have so much to do today that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”
Martin Luther was the leader of the Protestant Reformation. I’ve been blown away by the solution that many great Christian leaders bring to their problems in life, specifically that of balancing busyness, work, and hurry. No matter what the problem is, it seems the solution always comes back to Jesus. There’s a way and a heart to bring whatever heavy burden you have to him, and him alone.
In my mind, I like to pursue the endless possibilities of new time structures, habits in my routine, or productivity hacks that make life more prioritized. Don’t get me wrong, some of these are beneficial and can aid in our pursuit of God. But what if doing life well does not mean finding the perfect time balance of your life’s tasks, and more about doing one thing really well? That one thing, of course, is our devotion to God. I do not mean this in a performance-driven way, rather in the way that Luther himself says: life can be so overwhelming that the way we are retrieving our source of life is of the utmost importance. The busier you are, the more you need to prioritize the truths of God.
It’s a way of putting our big rocks in the jar first, as the old analogy goes. We want to prioritize what’s most important, and we do that by intentionally deciding and acting on what we need to do, not always want we want to do. Our connection with God and our connection with people should always remain atop the list. They are the big rocks that set the foundation of our life’s jar. The rest of our lives trickle in from the top, and we only do those well by first managing our foundation.
As Stephen Covey writes, “most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.” If your life is not prioritized, it will be spent on urgency. Everything will become an emergency of sorts, from your to-do list at work to family obligations. You will stop making the time and begin letting the time make you.
A great solution to this from Stephen Covey himself would be the following: “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” It is an incredible way of thinking through your life’s time frame, knowing that you must intentionally choose your road map. The only caveat I want to add is that like many pieces of advice, it is missing the best part: God. The heart of God is what brings these kinds of applications to fruition, and it is what makes them the most enjoyable and beneficial. Do not let your soul get lost in something invaluable in the pursuit of a priority.
Let’s circle back one more time to Martin Luther. His thought was that life was so busy he needed to spend three hours with God in prayer before beginning to do any of it. In other words, he scheduled his priorities. He blocked his morning out before becoming enwrapped in the tasks and duties of the day. Whether or not three hours was an exaggeration, I’m not sure, but it is the heart of God that matters. If you had 4 minutes to spend with God this morning or 40 minutes, you still put the priority of spending time with God in your schedule. You put the largest rock down first.
Begin to schedule your priorities. If it helps, begin to do that with all of your tasks in your week, but most importantly, prioritize your time with the Lord. Out of the overflow of this time will come the heart and the strength to complete the rest of the day, not just to get through it, but to joyfully serve it.