My friend Richard and I were talking about our lives. We were talking about being better stewards of our time and our attention. You know the conversation. You’ve had it too.
He said, “It’s not so much the tyranny of the urgent. It’s the tyranny of the distracting.”
The Tyranny of the Urgent is an old booklet by Charles Hummel. The premise is simple. Urgent is not the same as important. But we allows ourselves to be so driven by the urgent because it is so, well, urgent, that we don’t get to the important. For Hummel, this isn’t just about time management. It’s an opportunity to learn from the way Jesus lived his life. How is it, Hummel wonders, that Jesus can get to the night before he died and say “I have finished the work You gave me to do” (John 17:4)?
In this short document, Hummel identifies three simple strategies. Like Jesus, talk to God daily for his agenda. Like the disciples, pay attention to Jesus’ words. And regularly review (daily, weekly, monthly) what God’s asking and how we’re doing.
What was so compelling about Richard’s statement was that there is much in my life that isn’t urgent. I have space. Our kids are out of the house. My job has much that is important, but big spaces free of the urgent. However, I’m pretty sure that I’m no more focused on the important than I was when our lives were more full of urgency.
Because I allow distractions to dominate my field of vision. I could, of course, spend time talking with God, just like Jesus did. I could spend time reflecting on Jesus’ words, just like the disciples. I could spend time reviewing what I’ve learned.
I will. After I see who retweeted this post.