Catalyst: Big Rocks First

24 06 2008

READING: James 5

LEARNING: The principle here is putting the big rocks (top priorities) in your schedule FIRST and then putting the smaller rocks later. As a Pastor I have often run around like a chicken with his head cut off – trying to be everywhere, do everything and feeling empty. Here’s what I’ve found, top priorities whisper, and lower priorities scream at you for attention. Top priorities don’t demand you to act on them today, but will destroy you if you don’t act on them. In your ministry area, what are the top priorities?

For me as a Pastor, message preparation can easily take over time spent to develop leaders, cast vision or listen to Christ, which are the bigger priorities for me. In ministry, we can get focused on getting everything done for the week and never develop clear systems to help new people into ministry roles. We can spend time getting set up on Sunday, but miss the greater priority to build community as a team.

As simple as this sounds, the easiest way to keep top priorities from getting swamped by the smaller “to do” needed activities is to write them down and schedule them each week. I know for me the bigger priorities require more mental work and energy. At times the solution doesn’t appear right away and it’s easy to pull a brain muscle to get it done. But in the end, it’s gets you down the road to where you want to be.

Personally my #1 Priority is to listen to Christ. I schedule a lunch with Him every Thursday. I am pretty religious about that time with him. When I miss it, I wig out…like I did last week.

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8 responses

24 06 2008
Larry

We are all bothered by how to do it all. I have spent most of my live trying to get through the many lists of things-to-do. There are lists at home, lists at work, list in my spiritual life, and list in my personal life. The two that have suffered the most are the last two; my spiritual and my personal lives.

This article clearly states that only I can resolve these issues in establishing which are the large rocks. No doubt that I have my priorities backwards. I know that I have been migrating more and more toward my spiritual and personal lives, but I have a long way to go. Like most men, the challenges of home and work tasks are the most fun, but I am realizing that it isn’t going to get me into heaven. My effort at EPIC has provided me with a better and clearer direction than I experience in the past. The Men’s Ministry (Men of EPIC) is providing me with the environment to grow more spiritually. I have been wanting to learn more of the bible, and gain a prospective from a masculine viewpoint, and this could be the right catalyst for this learning.

27 06 2008
eric

I really enjoyed reading James. It was comforting and a welcome reminder of how, and why, to do things when facing a world, a life, and a self that is not what it “ought” to be.
Larry mentioned an interest in a “masculine viewpoint,” and I cannot help but feel there is something rigorously masculine about the book of James. I think it is the emphasis on action and the tough language (from nautical metaphors to hellfire to in-your-face challenges).

28 06 2008
Tim Kade

Eric and Larry,
I think sometimes the masculine viewpoint is missing from Christianity. I’ve always loved James, but never looked at it from a gender observation. Do you think Christianity has gone soft? Do you think we’ve minimized the male perspective?

28 06 2008
Kathy

I feel like I have three big rocks in my life: family, church, work. They don’t always fall in that order of importance for me. Sometimes it switches, you know like work, church, family…etc. My problem is that I am a very loyal person. So, whichever I know I am not “giving my all” in, I am ridden with guilt. For example, I know that my boss needs me to finish something at work, but I know my family is waiting for me at home, plus there may be ministry things that need to get done, meetings we have to go to. So, I am constantly feeling bad about something. I know my priorities should be family first….now that I just said that and wrote all this, I realize I have not mentioned God. Now I am ridden with even more guilt.

But see, that is my struggle. I am loyal and I want to please everyone. I know in my mind how my priorities should work. God, family, ministry. But, my heart is constantly in conflict. It is very hard to overcome that.

I found the question on page23 amusing: What is most rewarding? I said that ministry was most rewarding. I felt like my answer should have been “family”. And my reason it wasn’t was because “there is less fighting/problems in my ministry than in my house”. lol 🙂

I love the book of James. I have read it before. However, this time through I kind of felt like “James, get off my back!” It is probably is because it IS like Eric said, the emphasis is on action and in-your-face challenges! Which, normally I like, but I have been feeling extra tired this past month and I was kind of like “yeah, yeah, yeah, I know! I know! Now leave me alone.”

Is that too honest? I guess I need more time with Jesus.

28 06 2008
Jodi Kade

Big rocks first was challenging for me. I don’t think I’m good at putting the big rocks first. I tend to live a very reactive lifestyle. I take each thing as it comes, so if something never presents itself to me (in some way, shape, or form), it’s not likely to get any attention at all. After reading this, I realized that I need to get my priorities in place or my life will always be reactive and not proactive. To be proactive I need to have goals and a vision, not just for my life, but also for my ministry. So I’ve begun to make myself a list of priorities, and here’s how it looks so far…God – find a quiet moment each day to spend with him, Family – be more intentional about showing each member how much I love them every single day, Epic/Work – be more intentional about my ministry, working to improve its functionality and not just completing tasks (even thought that’s also very important). I trust that as I begin to be intentional about putting the big rocks first, all the other daily tasks will fall into place.

29 06 2008
Macair

Kathy, I love your honesty. I think many women including myself have felt just like you do right now. The list of “things to do” never ends. Everything seems like they are big rocks, and at times I feel like I’m under a huge boulder!

Usually at that point I realize my priorities have gotten way out of order and the first to fall is my time with Christ. I know that is not how it is suppose to be but that is the truth. I’m now starting to make a conscience choice to spend more time with Jesus the busier my schedule gets! Easy to say, much harder to put into practice. I need that quiet time for God to remind me of what priorities are important for that day. When I do this, I am able to weed out the screams of the day, to what actually needs and should get done. If I allow it, everyone else will be all to happy to fill my day and before you know it, I haven’t done what Christ wanted me to accomplish. That is when I feel like I have been the hamster running on the wheel all day and not getting any further ahead.

As I was reading this chapter that is exactly the spot I found myself, running on the hamster wheel. I love how God can remind us of what is important, and tells us how to get back on track. Even when the truth is sometimes hard to swallow.

The end story to that chapter really hit the mark, just another reminder of what happens when we take our eyes off of what is important. I don’t want to go down for paying attention to a .75 light bulb distraction! Thank you everyone for your comments, they are very helpful and really make you think. Have a great week and we’ll see you soon.

29 06 2008
Jacklyn

Jodi, Kathy and Macair, I understand. People joke about the “superwoman” syndrome, but in all honsety, we can’t do it all. The pie can only be cut into so many pieces, and it seems like each day, the serving size changes. I have actually used this demo with Jr high in the past, and I still haven’t gotten it myself. (Do we ever?) It seems like those big rocks that we are suppose to be placing in our jars every week, are constantly tumbling. The needs of each of the areas of our lives, family, work, church, change from week to week. As soon as one area “seems” to be falling into a manageable routine, along comes a little or big landslide that tumbles that rock and changes up that area so that your left scrambling to find your footing again. (changes at work or the kids schedules etc.) I do know that when I MAKE the time to spend with God, I can manage things better, or at least have peace enough to mange through. Pastor, thanks for admitting that just last week you “wigged out” from not prioritizing time to spend with our Lord. Father, Pastor, Husband and all that entails must be overwhelming. I can’t imagine what that must be like, for you and your family. (Heaven help ANYONE heading to seminary!!!!) Everyone struggles. We all like to give that Sunday morning appearance that we got it all together and that we’re just “fine”, but by putting our own need to be in control aside and allowing God to be first, is very hard! Thank God for his grace when ever I have to come crawling back to let Him know, that I am going to try again to let Him lead and be in control of my day……..each day. I do think Christians have gotten soft in general. James challenges us to live the “strong” practical life, and I agree with Kathy. James irritated me because It would mean I would have to do more work on myself and get tough, when my body just wants to take a nap. I appreciate these blogs since they help me get a little reenergized and focused. THANKS ALL!!!

30 06 2008
Tom Page

Big rocks are tough because they take preparation, time and are difficult to impliment. I need to spend time in the prep mode before attacking a big rock. This is something I don’t usually do. Heres an example. I need a deck on my cottage. It is an easy build. I should measure it out, determine the design, figure out materials, buy materials, set up work area and go ! I usually don’t do it this way because I’m not seeing, and the operative word is seeing, any progress. So, instead of doing what I said, I buy the footings and install them. Then I drive and get the framing lumber,…..you can see where I’m going. It is very hard for me to tackle big rocks because of the necessity for that instant solution, gratification.

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