But Everyone Knows You HAVE to!

Have to” what? The answer is in the multiple-choice test below:

A. Get a full hour of aerobic exercise every day.
B. Go in each year for two dental exams, one general physical, one eye exam, and two cancer-prevention exams.
C. Get your oil changed and tire pressure checked every 3,000 miles; check your brakes, change your air filter, and get a tune-up every 30,000 miles; and have your car’s air conditioner checked annually.
D. Regularly clean in your clothes dryer’s lint trap and under your refrigerator to prevent dust fires. Vacuum your whole house, clean your bathroom, and launder your sheets weekly.
E. Test your smoke alarm and replace your fire extinguisher annually.
F. Keep a diary of everything you put in its mouth and its nutritional value. Cook all your meals at home to maximize that nutritional value.
G. Read or watch the news daily.
H. Read a minimum of one full-length book every month.
I. Work an absolute minimum of 45 hours a week, and take at least two special courses–or attend two conferences–each year, to keep up to date in your career field.
J. Get a full eight hours of sleep every night. Take a fifteen-minute nap every day after lunch.
K. Take at least two weeks of vacation a year.
L. Post on at least one blog and two social networks every day.
M. Keep a file of monthly goals, annual goals, five-year goals, ten-year goals, and life goals. Track your progress toward all of these carefully.
N. Pray and read the Bible for an absolute minimum of thirty minutes in the morning and another thirty minutes before bed. Do at least one full page of spiritual journaling every evening. Take a full day’s spiritual retreat once a month.
O. Each week, attend at least one church service, one Sunday morning adult-education course, and one small-group Bible study. Also volunteer for two or three regular church jobs such as choir, Sunday school teaching, or special projects.
P. Give every member of your family an hour of one-on-one time a day–one to four hours a week for each of your friends.
Q.
All of the above–and as many more again.

The correct answer is Q. Or so anyone would think from the way most of us either live or feel guilty about not living.

Believe it or not, there apparently are people who actually manage such a list. But then there are also people who can run a mile in four minutes or less. For most of us, it just doesn’t work–and the last thing we need is anyone telling us we could manage it if we would only do what they did. We may not have the temperament to make someone else’s system work, we may not have the stamina, we may not have the mindset, we may just have more interruptions and distractions.

Or, we may be dealing with occasions of spiritual discipline or warfare against which, unknown to us, our best-planned efforts are helpless.

In at least one way, failure to find an effective get-things-done system is a blessing–it keeps us from building emotional idols. When something works, and works well, the natural reaction is to start depending on that thing as the central focus of life. But what happens when a major life upset strikes, when the subtle accumulation of new responsibilities passes critical mass, when our health crosses a “past its prime” boundary–when what always worked before suddenly fails us? Do we scramble to reinvent the system (a hard thing to manage while dealing with a crisis), sink into despair, or simply panic? 

The best answer, of course, is to pray–to turn to God for help. But we should be ashamed by how often we use prayer as a desperate last resort, when developing a regular relationship with God is the “system” we should have been using all along–the only infallible approach. Let me quickly add that I don’t see “making time for God” as a way to guarantee we’ll find room for everything we think we have to do. God can’t be manipulated or bribed, and if we aren’t willing to let Him tell us when something has to be dropped completely (regardless of how many people assure us we can’t afford to neglect it), we’re no better off than the obese person who reads books on healthy eating as a hobby but refuses to give up a single one of her favorite junk foods. 

It’s not doctors, professional organizers, or business coaches who have the right to tell any individual what he has to do. That right belongs exclusively to God.

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1 Comment

  1. Lots of people need to read this post. I hope you practice what you preach. 😉

    Reply

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