We all make thousands of decisions each day. Sadly very few realise that, since most decisions are made intuitively without much conscious thought. Among all the decisions you make each day, it is those made intuitively that are often to blame for the chaos and stress in life. Naturally we tend to take care of the urgent, to the neglect of the important.
It is obvious in many ways. A young man will enrol in an world-travelling job that pays quite well in a strong currency every two years, and then bemoan the lack of stability in his life sufficient to marry and raise a family. Those with a more stable income spend the vast majority of it on urgent bills that need to be paid rather than in things that contribute to the strength and maturity of his/her family. A student will neglect even the most important of gatherings in being a godly man/woman for the urgency of studying for the next day’s exam.
The urgent often trumps the important in more subtle ways too. In relational conflict the need to vindicate self in the moment trumps the need to demonstrate understanding of the other person’s concern. A temptation to fulfil a felt need is entertained while the practise of self-control is neglected because it doesn’t offer immediate benefits. When two things clamour for your attention at the same time, it is the one that you deem more urgent that gets dealt with rather than the one you deem more important.
Matters of urgency and matters of importance – they are not enemies, and both will be considered by the wise and godly, but we intuitively decide to deal with matters of urgency to the neglect of matters of importance.
The first step in growing up in this regard is not to learn to prioritise, as much as it is to learn to recognise our decisions. Intuitive as they might be, these are still active decisions – recognise that. Then, put a little more thought into your rather thought-less decisions making defaults.
Here is some wisdom for importance VS urgent in your speech
The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer,Proverbs 15:28
but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
Twice in Proverbs the following wisdom is given for importance VS urgent in how you decide to respond to temptations that pop up (when the kids argue instead of obey; when the work load is increased instead of cancelled; when the spouse is grumpy instead of helpful)
The prudent sees danger and hides himself,Proverbs 22:3 and Proverbs 27:12
but the simple go on and suffer for it.
Your thoughts, text messages, words, and actions can all do with another application of the urgent VS important principle, namely what you decide to think, type, say, and do when you are offended, mistreated, or misrepresented.
Repay no one evil for evil,Romans 12:17
but give thought to do what is honourable in the sight of all.
Do you thoughtlessly continue with the urgent and suffer for it, or do you grow up and each time decide what is more important?
A hidden blessing that comes from making intentional rather than intuitive decisions, and working on the important more than the urgent, is that there ends up being a lot less of the urgent. For example, the student that decides to attend important church gatherings, will find himself well studied long before the day before the exam which also happens to be the home-group night. The person who woke up on time will not be stressed about the kids who aren’t eating fast enough, the traffic light that is not working, or the spouse that wants to chat first.