By H.B. Charles, Jr.
How do you walk the fine line between the things that are important and the things that are urgent in your leadership? Many things demand a pastor’s attention. There’s the public ministry of preaching, music, and prayer. There’s time spent caring for those who are sick, grieving, confused, troubled, or hurt. And let’s not forget administrative details of planning, organizing, and leading.
Needless to say, many responsibilities fall on a pastor’s shoulders. And if you’re not careful, the tyranny of the urgent can cause you to lose sight of what matters the most.
Important vs. Urgent
There are three primary categories of things a pastor will face:
- Important things
- Urgent things
- Both an important and an urgent thing
Things that are both important and urgent are often far and few between. Most often, a pastor must find the balance between the important and the urgent. And sometimes it’s not easy to do until it’s too late.
Imagine your office for a moment. Your Bible is open to the text you will preach on Sunday, waiting on you to dive in and study. But over the course of the week, your email, meetings, counseling sessions, and other urgent things demand your attention. All the while, the important task of sermon preparation slips by until Saturday night. You throw something in the microwave to feed your congregation on Sunday morning because you haven’t taken the time to prepare a good meal.
How to Focus on the Important
So, what do you do? In my life and ministry, there are many people around me who can do things as well or even better than I can. I can’t commit my time, energy, and focus on things that can be delegated to others and miss the primary responsibilities to which God has uniquely called me: caring for souls by the preaching and teaching of His Word.
Recall the feeding of the widows in Acts 6. The feeding of these widows wasn’t about who gets the biggest plate at the potluck. If the church did not care for these widows, the women were going to die. Yet, how did the disciples respond? “It would not be right for us to give up preaching the word of God to wait on tables” (Acts 6:2). The disciples devised a plan to be sure the urgent needs of the widows were met while they continued to focus on the important tasks of prayer and preaching.
Effective ministry is about spiritual priorities, not time management. Consider the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42. Martha was distracted. You want to be like Mary, of whom Jesus said, “Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her” (v. 42).
You cannot allow the tyranny of the urgent to distract you from what matters most.