Day: July 30, 2008

Priority drift and how to fix it

“Priority drift.” I made that phrase up to describe the state I found myself in a couple of weeks ago.  Simply put:  my priorities had drifted.  I found myself spread too thin, doing too many good things, and not doing the things I felt called — even compelled — to do.

What did I do?  I resigned from two boards of non-profits which I dearly liked serving on.  Both hold regular monthly board meetings, both expect help with fundraising, both have missions I support, but both were taking time and energy from my church and my life.   In two emails that took about 2-minutes each to compose, I resigned with regret from each.

Here are some other decisions I made previously to keep me free to do the things I want to do:

  1. I don’t watch TV. I got that idea from David Wilkerson (The Cross and The Switchblade) over 20 years ago.  Just last year I got the “courage” to buck culture, disconnect from cable, and quit watching TV.  I have since discovered that one of my favorite bloggers, Seth Godin,  does not watch TV.  Seth doesn’t go to meetings either, which is privilege I do not have…yet.
  2. I don’t preach revivals. Actually, I don’t preach revivals because 1) most revivals are not worth going to; 2) I don’t want to be gone for 3-5 days at a time.  Now, of course, nobody asks me to preach revivals since I’m off the “revival” circuit, but that’s okay.  Same thing goes for most conferences.
  3. I don’t try to be the leader of everything. I can’t be a good pastor, and the busiest guy in our Baptist association, state convention, national denomination, etc.  So, I’m very happy pastoring a small church in a small town with time to work in my garden, visit my neighbors, and let others take some leadership responsibility.  Am I shirking?  I’m sure some think so, but it works for me.
  4. I do try to live in a rhythm of prayer and work. I like the old monastic model, orare et laborare — to pray and to work.  Of course, the words pray and work get defined broadly, sometimes too broadly.  But I do try to do some physical work each day, which gives me a new appreciation for how hard others work.  Lately, I confess, our morning prayer time has gotten chewed up a bit by other “urgent” things, but I’m trying to get that back under control as well.

It is amazing how many good things can creep into our lives, distracting us from the best things that are our lives.  How do you stay focused on the things that are important to you and your ministry?