How do you decide what should take priority on your to do list each day? What is your prioritising technique?
The Tyranny of the Urgent
Like many people, before I became intentional about prioritising, I would be guided by the “tyranny of the urgent” as Charles Hummel describes it. In other words, I allowed other people to control my schedule and what I got done. Perhaps what gets done in your life is what is asked of you as you walk into your building first thing in the morning. Or maybe it’s whatever the last email in your inbox asks for. Perhaps you deal first with whatever’s on your voicemail. Maybe what you’re planning to do tomorrow is whatever has the earliest deadline that someone else has set for you.
We all have deadlines. We all fight fires. As a spiritual leader I have worship meetings to plan and sermons to write. If I don’t do that before those worship meetings arrive, or before those sermons are due to be delivered, then they won’t happen (there maybe some listeners who might be happy about that!). At any moment in a community, someone might pass away or suddenly go into hospital. I have all sorts of other emergencies to prioritise. Each week I receive a amount of emails from Salvation Army headquarters asking me to do things: complete paperwork, file returns, provide information, make decisions.
Prioritising is One of the Leader’s Greatest Challenges
Pastor Pete Scazzero says that:
Developing and discerning the priorities of the week is one of our greatest challenges as leaders.
His way of doing this brought me up short when I read it. He works on his to do list multiple times before the start of the week, always asking God the same question: “What are you saying around my priorities for the week?” Do you ever ask God that question. I must admit, in all that I do to help me prioritise my most important work, such as scheduling blocks of time in my diary for important work, I often forget to ask God what he wants me to prioritise.
Prioritising Before God
Pete suggests spending time before God, offering him each item on your to do list in stillness before him and listening for any changes he might want you to make. Each morning, offer to God the specific meetings and plans you have for the day. As Pete says:
Unless I ask, “God, how are you coming to me around what I am to do and not do? Is there anything else you may want to say?” I miss his promptings.
How would approaching your to do list this way revolutionise your priorities? I am convinced it is a necessary practice for all spiritual leaders – me included – and for Christian leaders wherever they work. Whilst I spend time in prayer at the beginning of every work day offering the day to God, I want to become more intentional about spending time before God with my to do list and discerning his priorities and not mine.
Do you include God in prioritising your work? If so, how? Why not comment below?
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Why not check out these posts from around the blog?
- Leadership: Why Me?
- Productivity: The Challenge of Balance
- Eliminating Interruptions
- You Need More Margin
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