Jesus seemed to always be busy, yet never in a hurry.
What about Moses? If he had been running red lights he would have surely missed the burning bush.
Just those two examples alone seem to indicate that if you are in a hurry you are not fully present.
When you and I (assuming you too have found yourself always in a hurry) are in a hurry we:
* run red lights.
* want others to hurry and finish their story.
* fly around corners on the roads and in the stores.
* don’t have time for others.
* skip our Bible reading and our prayer time.
* miss things, opportunities, and valuable lessons.
* listen less attentively.
* don”t call others when we should.
* fail to carve time out just to think.
* change lines in the store…more than once.
* are obnoxious to others.
You get the point. Hurry needs to go!
No wonder the late Dallas Willard said, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
So for the last couple of weeks I have tried, somewhat successfully to do just that.
Recently I had the opportunity to attend the ACC Basketball Tournament. That meant that I had to buckle down and attack my upcoming message as I would be gone for three days. When it came time to leave Carol and I did not have to hurry to get there. I had allowed plenty of time.
When it came time to leave early Sunday morning I once again left early enough so I would not have to hurry back. Life is stressful enough. Why hurry and add to it?
Also just the other day I had to go to Lowe’s for two small items. First though I needed to take care of something in the customer service line. The woman in front of me had several items to return and it got complicated. Typically when in a hurry I’m sure I show it. However, I looked at my daughter Heather and said, “Let’s go get the two items and come back.” So we did. No stress. Minutes later there was no one around and we breezed out of the store.
It actually felt good to not be in a hurry.
Have I arrived? Absolutely not.
But I have learned why Willard said, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
So that’s the challenge. Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.
So what’s the solution?
Let me list eight antidotes to the eight hindrances.
As a review I will list the hindrance followed by the antidote.
Eight things that get in the way. The good news is there will always be unproductive days. I say good news because that is life. Why feel bad? You simply cannot allow that to destroy you. However, you can have better days. But you must be proactive.
What’s the biggest thing in the way of your own productivity?
Why not tackle that one first.
You’ll feel much better. After all, who wants to end the day feeling unproductive?
Perhaps one of the best places to start is to identify what’s holding you back.
In my own life I have identified eight things that get in the way. Just being able to identify them has proved helpful.
Just looking at these eight things may help you realize how easy it is to be less productive. These things seem to be ubiquitous. You are always fighting them.
So what’s the plan to overcome these hindrances? That’s coming in the next post.
Individual Style. Personalities studies have always fascinated me.
To help us better grasp the various personalities let’s use a simple tool. Florence Littauer has influenced me the most when it comes to personalities. So I will use the four she uses in her writings: Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholy, and Phlegmatic.
Our space is limited, but these few descriptions should allow you to see where you fit.
I have watched people take jobs that simply did not fit their personality. If they had better understood themselves, life would have been much more enjoyable.
Sanguines love people, love to talk, and love to have fun. On the downside they can be motivated by their emotions. Popularity is their theme. They like to be the center of attention.
Choleric people love to be in control, do things their way, and thrive on the task at hand. Production is their theme.
Melancholy people thrive on order. They can’t stand chaos and clutter. Perfection is their theme.
The Phlegmatic personality loves people, loves to listen, and prefers to do things the easy way. You can tell by those things that their theme is Peace. They are not a fan of conflict. Sure most aren’t, but they are the peacemakers.
So where does David fit in? As a writer of many of the Psalms it seems clear that we could put him in the Melancholy category. While many melancholy people are less likely to share their deepest emotions, David clearly did. Since we all have a primary and secondary personality let’s put his secondary personality in the Choleric grouping.
As a choleric David thrived on challenges, excelled during times of crisis, and was very decisive.
Growth Phase. We have already mentioned David killing a bear and a lion. Evidently he was not ready for the giant until after those encounters. Also there were many lessons regarding leadership and servanthood that God could teach him while he was alone tending the sheep. Too often we find ourselves thinking we are ready, when in reality we are just getting warmed up.
Lead sheep….kill a bear and a lion…kill Goliath….lead an army….lead Israel as king. David grew during each phrase as God was preparing him for what He had prepared for him: Lead the nation of Israel.
Alan Redpath commented, “The conversion of a soul is the miracle of the moment; the manufacturing of a saint is the task of a lifetime.” If we could only be patient enough until the timing was right. No one wants to eat a cake if it comes out of the oven too early. Too often we run ahead of God while He is still manufacturing us.
Natural Abilities. While David was tending sheep he developed the skill of slinging. He also was being prepared by God as shepherding was exhausting work. Think of the patience David developed as sheep are among the dumbest animals. Add in unfavorable weather elements and predators. You become good at planning, thinking ahead. You also get a lot of time to reflect, which is something foreign to our fast-paced culture. Think how valuable this was for David as he penned many of the Psalms. Who hasn’t been touched by the twenty-third Psalm. It would be hard to find someone who has never heard of it. Yet what are the first words? “The Lord is my shepherd…” His natural ability, that of a shepherd, taught him much about God.
Three Things You Can Do Right Now
What if we looked at our makeup from six vantage points? That is, what if we could discern in a practical way how God made us?
Let’s take a closer look at David and see how this plays out from a practical viewpoint.
Desire. All of us have desires or passions. When David met Goliath, David had a passion for the glory of God. He simply could not tolerate anyone disparaging the name of God.
1 Samuel 17:45-47 (NLT)
45 David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! 47 And everyone assembled here will know that theLord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is theLord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”
David was frustrated that someone would speak about God the way Goliath did.
Experience. David spent many lonely nights out in the field leading and protecting the sheep. We find out later that he had actually killed both a lion and a bear barehanded. Those experiences would soon prove valuable. He had no experience wearing the attire of a soldier, so he resorted to his experience with the sling.
1 Samuel 17:38-39 (NLT)
38 Then Saul gave David his own armor—a bronze helmet and a coat of mail. 39 David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before.
“I can’t go in these,” he protested to Saul. “I’m not used to them.” So David took them off again.
However, David had a lot of experience with a sling. David was able to use that experience to kill the giant.
Spiritual Gifts. Rather than paint David into a corner, it becomes obvious that he has the gift of leadership. He does things leaders do. He takes the initiative. He takes responsibility. He casts a daunting vision.
Romans 12:6-8 (NLT) lists several spiritual gifts. The list is not exhaustive, but it does give you an idea. 6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
I will only comment on the gift of leadership since space here is limited. As a leader David took his responsibility seriously.
In my next post we’ll look at the remaining components of your profile.
Let dig back into the archives. Way back. I still remember watching the NFC Championship Game in 1967 (at the time it was the National Football League) with my dad. Ray Scott and Jack Buck, two of my all time favorite sportscasters, called the game.
I will spare you the details, but the game came to be known as the Ice Bowl. Look it up. The weather conditions were beyond brutal.
However, the Green Bay Packers were coached by the legendary Vince Lombardi, and the Dallas Cowboys by the legendary Tom Landry. It was a tight game. The score was Dallas 17 – Green Bay 14 with just seconds remaining. However, Green Bay had the ball at the one-yard line (sound familiar?). Actually it was a little less than a yard to go for a touchdown.
It was third down and Bart Starr, the quarterback, was able to sneak it into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown. That play was played over and over. It became a defining moment. Now no one knew that at the time. But that’s the way defining moments are. You don’t realize them until later.
But that touchdown secured Vince Lombardi’s place in football history. In fact, I will go so far as to say that if Green Bay had not scored, today’s Super Bowl winner would not be receiving the Lombardi trophy, but the Landry trophy. That’s how big that play was.
You too will face defining moments. My dad faced one when he came home with an unusual job offer. He took it, and it continues to define his life. It was a wise decision.
In my own life I made a decision to buy a piece of land in a split second. That quick decision became a very positive defining moment in my family’s life.
In the business world, Stephen Covey wrote a book in his fifties entitled “The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.” That book became a defining moment in his own life.
But let’s go back to football and the recent Super Bowl. Seattle had the ball at the one yard line; however, unlike Green Bay, they did not score. As a result New England won the game and Tom Brady became a four-time Super Bowl winner. Even though he was not on the field for the crucial play, that win has forever put him in the conversation of “Best Quarterbacks of All Time.” The play at the end of the game and the win became defining moments in his life. It didn’t hurt that he had an incredible fourth quarter while on the field.
A defining moment may be on its way into your own life. You may not recognize when it comes, but there will be one. The best way to prepare is to start making wise decisions today so when the defining moment comes, you’ll be ready to make the decision that defines you.
In the Old Testament a boy named David made a decision to take on the giant Goliath. That decision became the defining moment in his life. But his earlier decisions led to that decision.
Once again, a defining moment is on its way. I hope you’re ready. It may define you for years to come.
Are you ready?
We have just begun a new year. Many have set some ambitious goals. Turned over a new leaf. Added this and subtracted that. But as we go through the various lists, something appears to be missing. Play Time.
We have even taken it out of our educational system. Recess seems to be a thing of the past. Play time is no longer valued. It’s missing in my own life. Perhaps one reason is that I grew up with a dad who thought play was a curse word…almost. My dad was obsessed with work, efficiency, and production. But deep down in my dad’s soul was a yearning to play.
In fact, one memory of working for my dad stands out. It was the day the unthinkable happened. It was a cold morning one winter. Four of us were up on the building: my brother Mark, Mike, Scott, and me. Out of nowhere, dad climbs off the ladder and comes walking across the building. Familiar sight.
And then it happened. Dad stunned as with his first words. We should have been sitting down. He said, “Let’s go skiing.” Our jaws dropped. Dad never, never, never, had fused work with play.
Well, needless to say, that day will never be erased from my mind. That day the five of us hit the slopes. While I can’t remember what happened the next day at work, I promise you we were more creative, more productive, happier, less stressed, and no doubt, even had a better attitude.
Perhaps like me, you, too, struggle with play time. But what if play actually made you more productive, more creative, better at anticipating and making decisions? Wouldn’t that inspire you to play more?
Today everyone has heard of Google and Pixar. What you may not know is that they have intentionally incorporated play into the company’s culture. Maybe they have learned the value of play. Perhaps I need to stop working and go play.
Even Jesus had his disciples get into a boat and spend some time away.
What do you say we stop for a moment and schedule some play time?
Especially if you are a believer. I mean, wouldn’t you begin to question God? Where is He? How could He allow this to happen?
I’m not sure Daniel was awakened from his sleep. He may have been taken during the daytime. But he was captured along with three of his friends and taken to Babylon, the ruling power of the day.
No matter how you cut it, they were teenagers! You will need to read the story in Daniel 1. As you are reading ask the following questions.
* So where is God?
* Has God lost control?
* Couldn’t He have kept this from happening?
* Now what?
What I find fascinating about Daniel 1 is that God is the chief actor! Specifically God does three things.
1. God is the one pulling the strings when the Babylonian army invades Jerusalem.
2. God is the one pulling the strings when Daniel receives a special exemption.
3. God is the one pulling the strings when Daniel and his three friends outshine their classmates.
And just think. Many were thinking, “Where is God?” And He was right there all along. Right in the middle of the action. In fact, God was the main actor.
In your own life have you found yourself questioning where God is? Perhaps one day you will realize that He was there all along, right in the middle of it all!
Even if the new habit was formed earlier there will still be a critical point in the life of the habit.
That was the case for Daniel. About 400 years earlier King Solomon had suggested that if anyone was living in exile that they might pray facing Jerusalem. Daniel liked the idea and adopted the habit. So three times a day he opened his window and prayed toward Jerusalem.
So far so good…
Until a conspiracy was formed. Some of his colleagues simply wanted Daniel out of office. Who knows exactly why.
You’ll need to read the entire story in Daniel 6.
The point is Daniel had to decide if he was going to continue the habit. He could have prayed with the windows closed. But no doubt Daniel felt that to not pray as he always had would have been a betrayal against God.
How many of us consider our spiritual habits in a similar light?
Think about some of the basic habits we have:
You can add a few more perhaps. But how seriously do we take those habits? Yes, I realize that none of these bring instant gratification. Which can make it easier to let one slide.
But should we abandon those habits, would we consider it an act of betrayal towards God?
Daniel certainly did.
That’s why we read in Daniel 6:10, But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God. (NLT)
Your spiritual habits matter.
But those same habits which strengthen you in the tough times, also cause you to betray God if you choose to abandon them.
Are there any spiritual habits you need to reclaim?