Is What Feels Urgent God’s Leading
My mother used to tell a story about me to which most moms of young children can relate. One day, when she ran into the bathroom for just a moment, I immediately began knocking on the door, demanding her attention. In frustration, she said “Can’t I get just a little privacy?” To her surprise, the knocking stopped and briefly all was quiet. Soon I was knocking again, but with a new message. “Mommy, I looked in my toy box, but I couldn’t find any privery!”
Like the endless, urgent entreaties of a toddler on a frazzled mother’s time, we also experience constant demands on our limited time. Our daily 24 hours are gobbled up by family responsibilities, work, household duties, and more. Some demands we can control, forcing them into our timetable. Others scream for attention until we give it, like knee-high grass in the yard or an overflowing laundry basket.
This phenomenon, commonly referred to as the “tyranny of the urgent,” steals valuable time from the more polite, but more important things. Sometimes we can’t avoid temporarily setting aside the important to deal with something that cannot be put off another minute. But all too often we allow the seemingly urgent to push out the important because we fail to purposefully prioritize the important.
Jesus Defeated the Tyranny of the Urgent
Jesus experienced constant demands on His time and attention. The tyranny of the urgent was always a threat. For instance, in the Gospel of Mark, we learn that Jesus couldn’t openly enter a town to teach because He would be overwhelmed by crowds of people who wanted something from Him (Mark 1:35). So Jesus intentionally worked to make room for the most important things.
When Jesus first began His ministry in Galilee, everyone in Capernaum wanted to get close to Him. So, after an overwhelmingly hectic day in ministry, Jesus rose early to get away and spend time alone with His Father. “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35 ESV). (Also see “8 Tips for Moving Quiet Time from “Want To” to “Get To“ and “11 Tips for Spending Quality Quiet Time with God.“)
When His disciples woke and discovered Jesus gone, they went looking for Him. Their search was not mere concern for Jesus’ welfare. According to Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary the Greek word Mark used that’s translated as “searched,” “looked for,” or “followed after” means to intensively track and persistently search with a determination to find. The disciples didn’t merely wonder where Jesus had gotten off to, they were a bit indignant that He wasn’t conforming to their timetable. After all, the crowds back in town clamored for His presence. (Mark 1:37).
We can Follow Jesus’ Example
Sometimes we also feel that indignant hostility from the things that pull at our attention. But rather than simply throwing our hands up in surrender, we can follow Jesus’ example. After a busy, draining evening and with more of the same ahead, Jesus intentionally did two things.
First, He spent time with the Father by slipping beyond the reach of the urgent to commune with the only One who could provide everything He needed. He set the urgent aside to embrace the important.
Second, Jesus established His priorities and voiced them to those in His circle. Jesus clearly and firmly told the disciples that the Father had sent Him to take the Gospel message to those who needed it. “And he said to them, ‘Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.’” Mark 1:38
He would fulfill that purpose first and meet the physical needs of the people as He went. And we can follow Jesus’ example. Let’s establish our priorities, voice them to those close to us, and ask God to help us keep the important at the top of our list.
Yes, some days the time tyrant will win. But most days, with a little discipline and a lot of Jesus, we can defeat the tyranny of the urgent and use the time the Father has given us for His glory.
This post was excerpted from “Deep Rooted: Growing through the Gospel of Mark.”
Get to Know Kathy Howard:
About the author: Kathy Howard is a treasure hunter. She hunts for the creamiest chocolate, richest coffee, and cherished stories of faith. She also digs deep into Scripture, mining God’s eternal truths. Kathy has a Masters in Christian Education and has taught the Bible for more than 30 years in a wide variety of venues. She is the author of 12 books, including “Heirloom: Living and Leaving a Legacy of Faith” and the “meaty” devotional series “Deep Rooted.”
Kathy and her husband live in north Texas. They have three married children, six grandchildren, and one accidental dog. Find free discipleship resources at www.KathyHoward.org.
Check out her book, Deep Rooted: Growing Through the Book of Romans
Have you lost the wonder of your salvation? Maybe you’ve forgotten the abundant riches of God’s grace. The Gospel isn’t just a statement of faith. It is more than hope for eternity. The Gospel of Jesus is the power of God for your life today. Recapture the awe of your life in Christ with this 40-day pilgrimage: Deep Rooted: Growing through the Book of Romans.