What Is Really Important?

In Charles E. Hummel’s classic work “The Tyranny of the Urgent” he writes about the tension between the urgent things of life and the truly important things. Hummel states, “Christians who are too busy to stop, take spiritual inventory, and receive their assignments from God become slaves to the tyranny of the urgent. They may work day and night to achieve much that seems significant to themselves and others, but they don’t complete the work God has for them.”

Consider his last statement for a moment: We can be busy in life but not actually accomplishing what God wants us to accomplish. As Christians we have all experienced the tyranny of the urgent filling our days, weeks, months and years with what has to be done now leaving us wondering deep down inside if we are really doing what we should be doing.

How often do you stop and ask the question, “God, what do you want me to be doing?”

When we do not take our direction from God, we will allow the urgency of the day to dictate our schedule. And this leads to a life that is driven not by the Spirit of God and the mission of God but rather the immediate needs of this temporary world. And when our life is simply filled up by the immediate need, we can find ourselves not spiritually thriving but just surviving. This existence of mere survival is what Thoreau called a life of quiet desperation. A life without true meaning and purpose.

I believe too many Christians are just surviving without knowing the joy of living out the work that God has for them. They have become consumed with the urgency of the temporary without stopping to consider what God’s task is for them that impacts the eternal.

Jesus spoke about this type of intentional living when he said, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.”

Jesus knew the tension between the urgent and the important. In Mark 1 verse 25 it tells us that Jesus had gotten up early to spend time in prayer with the Father. It was in these early morning times I imagine he was asking the question, “Father, where are you leading me today?” And when the disciples found him they said, “Everyone is looking for you!” Do you hear their urgency crashing into Jesus’ world? Jesus we need you to heal this person! Jesus we need you to take care of this important matter!

Jesus could have spent every moment rushing to the next urgent request. But what does he do? Verse 38 says that Jesus responded to their urgency this way: “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”

He responded to the urgent by pursuing the important. He knew what God had called him to do–to preach the Kingdom of God. The urgent matters would have led to good things. He would have healed where people needed healing. He would have comforted where people needed comforted. He would spoken truth where truth needed spoken. By in that moment he recognized the important wasn’t to go to those looking for him but to the neighboring towns who needed to hear the Good News of the Kingdom of God.

Is your schedule being driven by the urgent or the important? May we continue to spend time with God through His word and through prayer asking the Father, “where are you leading me today?”

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