Prioritizing

I work in an environment that prides itself on self-management, growth and development.  There seems to be a never ending supply of courses, classes, events, seminars and webinars.  All aimed to help every associate move forward in productivity and progress.  A few months back, I attended a Leadership Management seminar.  The objective of the seminar was to aid leaders on how to manage their time, their people, and their projects.

priorities3While attending the seminar, we were given a few principles to apply to our work life that could support us as we manage the countless tasks associated with our positions.  Oddly enough, weeks ago, I began a principle based women’s study on Sabbath rest that enforced some of the very same concepts visited during the seminar.  With the help of both, the seminar and the theological concepts God provided through the release of the Israelites from Egypt <Exodus 1>, I am learning to better work through what is most important to do, and elect to do those things.

 Thought to Ponder: Prioritizing can increase Sabbath time.

The majority of us have a two bucket view.  We have the things we believe to be needs/necessity, then we have the things we perceive to be wants.  Since I have deemed everything I do to be important, and I usually feel that everything really does need to be done, I have now put all my “To Do’s” in one bucket.  Actually,… all our “To Do’s” come with a certain amount of value.  At any moment, every item on our list can fall into the need category, depending on the day or the time.   

With that said, this is what I did to tackle the task of prioritizing my own Life “To Do” list.  But first, you must create a “To Do” bucket.  123

Now, spend some time determining how important each “To Do” is to you.  If you are like me and believe all your items are important, this process may take a while.  * High Items = urgent, required, critical. * Medium Items = required eventually; but can wait till later.  *Low Items = would be nice to have.

After determining the importance of your items, then prayerfully decide which ranking best fit each task. 

*Essential – This item is currently not adequate and must be changed immediately.  

*Conditional – This item can be changed or improved.  However, it does not qualify as inadequate if it is left as is.  

*Optional – This item may or may not be worth the time or the effort.

Even though I am not at all fond of 1-2-3 step answers, I pray this model give you a more clear view of your ever growing “To Do” list.  But remember, even as you work out the details …

 “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”  <Proverbs 16:9>

priorities2

Who will do it?

“We have so much to tend to, don’t we?  Children and spouses and projects and endeavors fill our hours and our brain space.  Somebody has to do them.  Somebody has to fill in the gap of effort required to get from the beginning to the end.  Most of the time, we assume that the individual responsible for it all should be us.  It has to be us.  Who else is going to do it?”  ~ P.S

 Thought to Ponder

Everything does not have to be done and you do not have to do everything.

Obey ……….God will take care of the rest.

Sabbath Resting

I do not recall ever hearing much complaint.  It was not unusual.  This was simply how things were.  Everyone unwittingly adapted to what was the norm.  We were all accustomed to the force of the still quiet.  Had there been any chaos in the days preceding, it too would soon be forced to comply.  The early morning sunrise seemed to have an invisible bell that quietly rang through the air without being seen.  There was no real indicator it was there, but somehow we were all certain that it was.  It was indescribable; a strange conflicting clash between humdrum and happy.

Everyone knew, if there was anything deemed necessary, it would have had to be pre-planned.  If anything was needing to be bought, brought, cooked, ordered, delivered, fixed, repaired, towed or included – it would  have to be done in advance or not at all.

 Because on Sunday, rest was the unspoken requirement; the day all were forced (or expected) to be still.

There would be families gathered together for dinner, communion and community.  There were Believers assembled together to commemorate the resurrection of Christ.  There were planned outings with one another, purely to build relationships and closeness.

There was time for worship.

Today, Sunday’s are inconspicuously stapled to the rest of the days of the week.  It is no longer its own special day, with its own special place.  Sunday’s have conformed.  There is no longer a distinct difference when compared.  For many, it has become a catch-all.  Any undertaking that was unable to be pressed into the prior six days can now be scheduled on the seventh.

In Exodus, the Lord commanded the Israelites against this very concept.  “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  You are to labor six days and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath to the Lord your God.  You must not do any work …..”

To not do any work is an idea many of us cannot comprehend.  Often, we find it difficult to give up our own agendas, our scheduled programs or our plans.

Like the Israelites, when they were enslaved, we too have been groomed to do all you can; to labor without ceasing.  That to stop and rest gives a notion of being lazy or slothful.  That to be idle is unproductive and a waste of valuable “to do” time.  That there is always something to do and you must always be doing something.

For those of us who are in Christ, we are not required to keep the ceremonial law of the Sabbath Day. <Hebrews 8, Galatians 4:10, Colossians 2:16>.  Yet, the principal the Lord provides through the Sabbath is a very practical model to the benefit of us all.  The need to stop and rest was crucial for them then and advantageous for us now.

Thought to Ponder:

If we are ever to profit from the principles provided through the Sabbath, we must first intentionally add Sabbath Rest – Sabbath Margin – Sabbath Time to our days.  “Remember, you were a slave in the land of Egypt, but the Lord your God brought you out ….” <Deut. 5:12-15>

You are now free ….to take some time to rest…. in your acknowledgement of Him.

Remember the Sabbath?

So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all His work that He had done in creation.  <Genesis 2:3>

Immediately after the benediction my inner clock timer began ticking.  My next “to do” was quickly approaching.  The crowd was cordially moving toward the main exit at a pace that allowed a brief greeting to any passerby.  There were handshakes, hugs and small talk all along the way.  Once I could enter the foyer, I assumed the speed limit would increase and there would be a clean sweep to the side door.  I was wrong.  To my surprise, right before my foot could hit the marble tile, the pace became snail like.  Within seconds, everyone came to a standstill.  Just like highway traffic, I could see “drivers” peering over those in front of them in hope of getting a better view of the hold-up.  Ironically, there still did not seem to be much concern with the flow of traffic.  The majority of the on lookers and the “drivers” gave the impression of having no place to go.  They were perfectly fine with the slow down. 

Once I entered the foyer, there it was – the reason for my delay.  There were clusters of people randomly standing throughout the vestibule.  Jovially enjoying their unaccounted for moment; leisurely catching up on small talk, sharing the latest happenings in their lives and doing the inevitable – networking.  But me, I quickly told my colleagues good-by and scurried to the parking lot.  The clock was ticking and I had things to get done. 

Does any of this sound familiar?  I am sure I’m not the only person, who has found themselves running through parts of the day to get to the next part.  For many of us, even when we look like we are not running, moving or scurrying, we are – in our minds.  

This week, a few ladies and I are starting a study that focuses on creating Sabbath margin in our lives.  Our hope is to slow down, take a closer look at anything (good, bad and not-so-bad) that may be robbing us from the rest, peace and tranquility that boosts us to be better daughters, wives, mothers, sisters, and friends.

Thought to Ponder

What is this gift the Lord has given, called Sabbath?  What do you believe was God’s original intent for Sabbath? Tell me, can your life use some …. Sabbath?   

“Remember the Sabbath…….” < Exodus 20:8 >

Different Equal

She grabbed the rope that was leaning against the first platform and swung to the other side. The rope looked to be attached to a pole, anchored in the middle of a water pool with a track like maneuver overhead.  The goal was to glide the top of the pole through the maze contraption. With precision and certainty, this feat was accomplished with ease.  Then, with confidence, she leaped off a trampoline to grab the underside of a slightly hanging cargo net.  Arm FlexThe crowd was going wild; chanting her name – screaming words of encouragement.  With controlled upper body strength, she was sure to not touch the water waiting below.  Reaching the top mat, landing on both feet, she defeated the obstacle course.  Ignited by the hype of the achievement, she balled her hands in tight fists, lifted both arms in a “L” shape and flexed her arm muscles.  Immediately the announcer says …… “What an accomplishment! She has shown everyone what she is made of; girls everywhere are standing to their feet!”

What? (As the needle quickly scratches over the vinyl record – in my head)

What did he just say?

The initial purpose of The Women’s Liberation movement was to free women from tyranny in a culture that viewed women as “less”.  A movement with a purpose that would raise consciousness of her intelligence, make aware her astuteness and openly note her overall value.  It was the culture that was blind to the value of the role of the woman, but God was definite when he created her as he did.  So God, not man, created what man needed – a woman.  There was no thought of subservience or maid service.  Yet, with absolute mindfulness that it was not good for man to be alone.  <Gen. 2:18>

Man and woman, created with their own purposes; different responsibilities – equal in value.

Thought to Ponder

Somewhere it has been noted that the evidence of what makes men and women different is to be hidden within society.  That women are to be uncomfortable in the things that hold true to her natural design and should rightfully aim to exceed the man.  It is the beauty of a woman in her entirety that is a complement to any realm.  Her attributes to nurture, encourage, cultivate, raise, support, teach, inspire, develop and promote is the glue to every social order.

Woman, as she walks in her planned blueprint, flexing her muscles under God’s pleased eyes, can bask in the praise of her accomplishments. <Prov. 31:30>  And to that – girls everywhere can stand to their feet.

Lady Cheering3

Don’t Judge Me!

To my surprise, after their brief walk over the land behind our house, the three of them returned with their hands filled. As I stood there looking surprised, thinking they were only going for a quick walk with grandma, the kids were excited about their new found treasure.  And my mom was proud to be the pioneer of this unpredicted treasure hunt.

The kids begin to share with me how grandma noticed the tree from afar off. As they got closer, she immediately knew what type of tree it was and did a speedy inspection.  There are no spots or holes on the leaves or the fruit, no white coating or branch dieback, no yellowing or browning of the foliage.  Mom’s findings were confirmed.

Mom had come to a measured decision, a sensible conclusion – a common sense observation – based on the factual findings of the tree.  This was not just a see then say.  It was after an actual assessment, then a judgment was made; the tree was good and the apples were able to be eaten.

It is a sensible conclusion to see an apple tree and expect it to bare apples.

Apple treeUsually, when we think of judgment, we think of a trial or jury; us grudgingly standing before our peers, waiting for a verdict.  Often believing our actions are being weighed on top a conclusion that is based on the opinion of the observer.  We so easily tie judgment to our person, and all the while, missing obvious judgments to things that are straightforward and real-world, every day.

We all are one and the same to the apple tree.  As we go about our everyday lives our actions will be noticed from a far and the words we speak will be evaluated.  As others come close, they will quickly consider what type of ‘tree’ we are and they too will do a speedy inspection to determine the condition of that which we bare.  We all would find it strange to see an apple tree baring kiwi.  Even Jesus the Messiah expected the fig tree to bare figs.  “ And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it.  When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves… ”, 

It is unrealistic to exclaim to others,   “Don’t Judge Me!”  We openly ask those who encounter us to not weigh our actions/words/behaviors.  We often attempt to thwart their common sense observation based on their findings.  But, if we have proclaimed to be an ‘apple tree’, those observing us will undoubtedly expect to see apples.

“Do not make a determination of anyone according to mere appearance, not by their titles, the notoriety they make in the world, or their pretentious show; but make a sure judgment based on the gifts and graces of God’s Spirit displayed through their conscious, conduct and their character.”  John 7:24

Judge Me

Thought to Ponder

What do others conclude when they make sensible observations – based on the factual findings of your “tree”?