I just finished reading “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. I highly recommend this book! Get yourself a copy. I wanted to interact with one aspect of his book….Keeping a schedule can be a way to accomplish more in life, but schedules can be inflexible. Adhering to a schedule can actually create new problems, especially when the schedule is followed in a rigid way.
Covey emphasizes that we all need underlying values/priorities that drive our life, and our schedule should be based on those values. The key is not to prioritize what is on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.
It is also important to have a “people dimension” to your schedule. Oftentimes the keeping of a schedule will need to be subordinated to people. People are more important than a schedule! You can think efficiency with time or things, but not with people. If you schedule 10 minutes of “quality time” with an employee or child to address a problem, it will likely only exacerbate it. An “efficient, scheduled conversation” will seldom resolve the deeper issue, which will continue to brew beneath the surface. We need higher values driving us, so that we can subordinate our schedule to what really matters. Covey’s book is filled with practical ideas to put this into practice.
Philip Yancey, in his book “Rumors of Another World”, shared some similar thoughts. Yancey reflected on the fact that he tended to approach life as a sequence rather than as a series of moments. He carefully scheduled his time and set goals, steadily moving toward their achievement. In his march forward each day, Yancey would view phone calls or any unscheduled event as a jarring interruption. Then he contrasted this to the style of the Lord Jesus Christ who often let other people (interruptions!) determine His daily life. Life was more like a series of moments for Jesus, and He would stop and give His full attention to the person before Him.
These reflections were deeply convicting for me personally. I tend to be a “task oriented” person, and a bit of a “control freak.” While being task oriented can be a good thing, it can be a bad thing too. An interruption in my plan disturbs me. I am not flexible. Similar to Yancey, I see an unscheduled event as a jarring interruption. Thinking about the life of Christ on earth was very convicting. I have just read Matthew and Mark, as I am reading through the New Testament this year for my devotions. Jesus was constantly interrupted, yet these interruptions were exactly what His ministry on earth was all about!! Every person or situation we encounter could be a divine appointment with eternal reverberations, whether as an opportunity for us to show love to a fellow human being or as a tool to help us in our personal character formation.
I have been praying that the Lord will help me live in a more “moment by moment style” and see people through His eyes and through the eyes of eternity. I don’t want a person who contacts me to feel like they have interrupted me or burdened me, but that I care for them and have time for them. I also don’t want to be so focused on the task at hand, that I fail to notice what is going on around me. An opportunity to minister to someone could be right in front of me, and I could miss it.
Perhaps this is something you need to consider and pray about as well? What does your communication style or approach to each day reveal about you? Look to Jesus as your example. Keep eternal values in mind. Put first things first.