Tyranny of the Urgent

Have you had time to listen to Pastor Ian’s messages? 

Too busy?  I know the feeling.  There just isn’t enough time in each day or minutes in each hour to get everything done.

My favorite all-time Christian pamphlet is entitled, Tyranny of the Urgent by Charles E. Hummel.  He begins his pamphlet by writing, “Have you ever wished for a thirty-hour day?”  After reading this first sentence, I was hooked.  Once upon a time, I used to long for a longer day and more minutes in every hour.

As I began as a young pastor, my time was consumed by so many urgent things.  I used to think that if I had more time, I could get more accomplished.  That sort of thinking only led to frustration and feelings of lack of accomplishment. 

I was a husband, a father of three beautiful little girls and the senior pastor of a growing faith family.  There just wasn’t enough time to do justice to all three plus everything else on my plate.  There were so many things to do.

Are you feeling that way right now in your life?

Then perhaps you are suffering from the tyranny of the urgent.

Hummel wrote, “When we stop long enough to think about it, we realize that our dilemma goes deeper than shortage of time; it is basically a problem of priorities”.  Apparently, Hummel learned something extremely important from an experienced factory manager who said, “Your greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important.”

We live our lives in a constant tension between those things that are really urgent and those things that are really important.

As I read Hummel’s pamphlet, I came to a conclusion.  I am a Martha and not a Mary.  Martha succumbed to the urgent while Mary stayed with the important (see Luke 10:38-42).

After reading “Tyranny of the Urgent”, I made a conscious decision to do the important and not just the urgent.  One tangible result was deciding to make sure that I would never let the urgent crowd out my presence as a father to our children.  While writing a sermon (which always seemed urgent), if my children came in with a need, I would stop writing and listen.

The tyranny of the urgent.  Does it exist in our lives?

Something to think about…