I love to-do lists. I appreciate how they help me stay organized and not forget things that are important. But one aspect I really love is the ability to move something into the “completed” column on my list. There is a joy I experience in this simple event that is probably a little odd, but I doubt I am alone in it. So, I think what I actually love is feeling productive throughout the course of my day.
There is definitely nothing wrong with being productive. However, there are some dangers that can come with too much of a focus on productivity. This is part of what is addressed in Luke 10. Jesus has been invited to come to the home of two sisters, Mary and Martha. When Jesus arrives we find that Martha is busy fixing the meal, cleaning up, and hosting Jesus and all of their guests. Mary on the other hand is simply sitting and listening to Jesus. You can imagine how this sits with Martha (she possibly contemplates how Mary never carries her share of the work around the house). And so, Martha goes to Jesus and tattles. She asks Jesus to make her sister get up and help her with all of the work.
It may have been a surprise to Martha when Jesus corrected her instead of her sister Mary. Jesus lovingly draws attention to Martha’s anxiety and worry. He then notes that Mary has made the right decision to sit at His feet.
This passage has much to teach us on the concept of the urgent vs. the important. The urgent can so easily dominate our lives. There are deadlines to be met, business to take care of, meetings to attend. There are clothes to be washed, meals to be prepared, bills to be paid (unless you have automatic withdrawal), and errands to be run. The urgent needs and tasks of the day have a loud and demanding voice in our lives. They scream for our attention and force us to give them our focus.
But the important things in life… they often have a softer voice. Many times they do not demand our attention like the urgent. But, they are still very important. Our time reading the Word and seeking God in prayer, the time spent discipling another new Christian, inviting our neighbors over for a meal to share with them the love of God, having a family night together, or a date night with your spouse. All of these are important, but they are often not urgent. They don’t raise their voice until they become urgent due to weeks, months, or years of neglect.
It can be hard at times to tend to these things that are important because sometimes they do not feed our need to be productive. A conversation, time in prayer, or a time to connect with someone doesn’t always create the same sense of accomplishment as completing an item that is urgent. But sometimes we must focus on doing what is important, running the risk of being less “productive” instead of simply checking off what is urgent.
And so, we are reminded to make time for the important things in life. We may have to say no to things that are neither urgent or important. Other times we must simply choose the important over the urgent.
So what are some of the important things in your life that have possibly been neglected in order to tend to the urgent? Take some time this week to prayerfully block out time to tend to what is important. And then, you can check them off the to do lists as well.
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