There are three luxuries I never feel I have enough time for – reading, writing, and creating. Why? Because they tend to follow the “have to’s” such as financial management, relationship management, task lists, and deadlines.
Have you ever said something like, “I don’t have time to read another book, write another blog post, or craft a new sermon… I have too much to get done.”? Somehow, we need to flip that on its head. How? I don’t have all the answers, but I think I have a few:
1. Read, write, and create early in the week, and early in the day, saving the to do list for later. W. A. Criswell always had excellent advice for young pastors, whom he would advise to “give your mornings to God and your afternoons to the ministry of the church.” He studied at home, in seclusion, each day from 6 to noon, then headed to the office, and still managed to lead a church of tens of thousands of Dallas residents with its many ministries and sub-organizations.
2. Think long term instead of short term. There is great short-term gain in getting a to do list accomplished and knocking out tasks. It’s called “productivity” for a reason – it produces results. But if, after months of intense productivity, we dry up spiritually and feed no one, what good have we really done?
3. Redefine “success” and “effectiveness.” We tend to define both in terms of output – the numerical measurement of the results of our work. But perhaps being effective and achieving success have as much to do with input as output – not merely the result of our work, but what we’ve invested into the improving of our work to begin with.
4. Start. Now. As I write this, I have a lengthy to do list filled with important tasks and assignments, but I’ve read a chapter of a new book helping me to understand tripolar spirituality more clearly, I’ve written most of this blog post, and I have yet to get my son off to school. Sometimes you just have to dig in and force the “luxuries” to become essentials – for the good of your soul, the organization you lead, and everyone else around you.
In other words, sometimes making the luxuries the essentials is a means of accomplishing the greater good. Imagine if we applied the same principle to devotional time, family time, and introspection time. Our whole world just might change for the better.
Photo by Joel Bedford.