The Process of Figuring Out What Really Matters

“That sounds great, but I don’t have time.” I hear this several times each week. On the surface we’re busier people than ever, and yet I can’t help but wonder if our busyness lacks purpose.

Typically what I hear through the maze of excuses is, “I don’t have any priorities.” Because this is the truth:

You make time for the things that matter.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you make time for the things that should matter, just that you live out a list priorities in what you give your time and energy to. Instead of allowing this guilt-trip to continue on, I must confess this is an incredibly personal struggle of mine.

the great abyss

Becoming a parent forces you to take an inventory of your priorities. I wish that I spent more time dictating priorities prior to life circumstances forcing the process to take place, but I am sure that I’m much like you, in that I do what seems most enjoyable in the moment. Much of my last 14 months in dad-life have been filled with thoughts of what really matters.

I’ve always been eclectic when it came to interests. I’m a musician and an athlete. I watch Mad Men and 30 for 30 documentaries. I join fantasy sports leagues to win them, and I read theology in my free time. I enjoy a good debate on music, movies, sports, politics…you name it I’ll know enough to hold my own. But once I became a father I could never fit in all my eclectic interests.

As a pastor I consider a lot of my work to be artistic. I lead the singing of songs with my church on Sundays. I craft sermons that I hope will be formative in the lives of the congregation. As with any artistic work, I always struggle with good enough. When is it good enough? Should that be the priority?

Meanwhile, I come home to this little person, and see my heart running around outside of my body. And I’m always convinced that priority there should trump good enough or eclectic taste.

In previous years I got over the “good enough” hurdle by putting in more and more time, until I had all the edges nice and polished. In the last year good enough has been trumped by a priority list. Instead of giving you perfect blog posts (and let’s be honest, that’s not really what blogging is for), I force myself to hit publish even when I’m unsure of whether it’s ready to be read.

And so just like you probably struggle to make time for the things that should matter, I struggle to know which thing in my life deserves my devotion most.

A few months ago I came across this video (thanks Branden) that spoke toward this tension of creativity, priorities, serving, and time (or the lack of it). I find a lot of wisdom in what is said. Enjoy.

Let’s be people with priorities, not merely busy people. Busy people get stressed. People with priorities place their energy in the areas where they can make a difference.

(RSS readers: If you can’t see the video, click here to view it)