“I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” — “Eisenhower Principle” (Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, quoting Dr. J. Roscoe Miller, president of Northwestern University)
“‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one.’” — Bible (Luke 10:41,42)
Sitting on my desk is a container filled with Styrofoam balls of various sizes. The majority are smaller, interspersed with a few larger ones. When I first put the balls in the container I had to give serious thought to which sizes I put in first. If I put the smaller ones in first I found it difficult to shove the larger ones down in among them. So I put the larger ones in and then poured the smaller ones in. They filtered down in the gaps and effectively filled the container. I was able to get more balls in that way.
I was given this idea years ago in a speech I heard by Stephen Covey. It was especially meaningful to me because I have the inclination to fill my days with “trivial pursuits.” At the end of the day I feel like I’ve been busy – but I’ve not made much progress on some of the more important objectives in my life.
By the way, perhaps some of you remember, have played or even still have the classic board game “Trivial Pursuits.” It has been around for more than 40 years and Time magazine once called it “the biggest phenomenon in game history.” It basically consists of trying to answer 2,400 trivia questions from traditional game categories. Later editions were accused of “dumbing down” some of the questions to make it easier.
I wonder how many of us spend most of our lives pursuing the trivial and even “dumbing down” the trivial to make life easier. In the Bible (Matthew 7:13,14) we read “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Italics mine).
During this time of turmoil in our society we have time and significant incentive to consider what really matters – what are the “big balls” we need to deal with in life before we become absorbed in the smaller ones.
All of us are probably more concerned about our health, and many are concerned about their finances – jobs, the stock market, etc. These are all valid concerns and deserve our continual prayers. But can we take some time to consider what is really important to us? I suggest that the most important issue in all of our lives is relationships.
First of all, what is our relationship with God? Check out Matthew 6:25-34. Here are a couple of key verses: “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? …But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” I know that’s easier said than done, but isn’t it a great goal for which to strive?
Next in line is our relationship with our family. First of all, let’s sit down with our spouse and get to know them better and let them know how much we care for them. Take the time to listen to them. If you don’t have a spouse you have others in your life you care for. Let them know.
Our children may need special encouragement at this time. They probably don’t understand much of what’s going on, and the potential consequences, but they sense the anxiety. And if you let them watch TV (please don’t use TV as a convenient babysitter – keep it off!) they are really going to be confused and probably totally misdirected.
“In conclusion, my friends, fill your minds with those things that are good … And the God who gives us peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8,9).