Found this…

Interruptions or real life?
March 26, 2009, 9:25 am
Filed under: Some food for today | Tags: , , ,
I think quoting CS Lewis is always a good way to start.
The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s “own,” or “real” life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life—the life God is sending one day by day; what one calls one’s “real life” is a phantom of one’s own imagination. This at least is what I see at moments of insight: but it’s hard to remember it all the time.  The Quotable Lewis (Wheaton, IL.: Tyndale House Publishers, 1989), 335.
Being busy doesn’t mean we are devoting ourselves to the most important things, busyness is no sign of diligence, faithfulness, or fruitfulness. We can become busy with everything under the sun except fulfilling the roles God has assigned for us. And no matter how busy I appear, if I am neglecting one of my primary roles, I am a procrastinator, spinning in unproductive circles.

How do we identify our roles, create goals, and block out our schedule to make sure our time is focused on what is most important.

But no matter how hard we try, it is impossible to plan every detail of our week. Interruptions arise, an unanticipated phone call requires an immediate decision and possible time investment, a new email means more thought, etc…The list of possible surprises in our carefully planned weeks is seemingly endless.

So what do we do with the requests we didn’t see coming?

First, it is important to understand our roles, goals, and schedules before we discuss responding to unanticipated requests. Often the procrastinator fails to work from biblical roles to establish his schedule, and is therefore vulnerable to the urgent. So he defaults to the most recent—or easiest—request. He neglects the important tasks and is governed by the urgent and the easy. He is busy, busy, busy, but he is not diligent, faithful, or fruitful.

On the other hand, the one who has been diligent, understands his roles, and has created goals can respond to unanticipated requests with discernment, aware of the time he has available. He can make appropriate scheduling decisions. He has planned for the upcoming week, informed by biblical roles, and can now evaluate requests and everyday surprises wisely.

Each day, both requests and opportunities to serve exceed our capacity and our time. Saying “no” is really a humble response acknowledging our limitations. But if we have not determined in advance who we are to serve, and how we are to serve, we will not be able to say “no” when appropriate.

If you cannot say “no,” you will be governed by the urgent requests of others and distracted from what is most important. Eventually you will become overextended and frustrated.

Evaluating Requests

So how do we evaluate the many requests and opportunities we encounter each day? This is not science, but I personally work from a rough framework when evaluating requests as they arrive. I approach the requests through a workflow that can be divided into three primary questions.

(1) Does the request fit my roles?

First, does this particular request reflect my God-ordained roles? Does it reflect my role as a Christian, or my roles as a friend, son, Bible study leader, or my commitment to the church? If so, it automatically moves on to the second question that we will get to in one minute.

But if the request is not consistent with my roles, I ask a further question: Can I complete this in less than two minutes? Sometimes small opportunities to bless others arise but do not fit into our specific roles. If that’s the case, go for it.” If not—if this is a large request that would require a block of time in my schedule and does not fit into my roles—I must decide to delegate, decline, or delete the request.

(2) Does the request fit my goals?

So the request is consistent with your roles. Good. And in previous posts we have begun considering our goals, which are really sub-priorities within each role.

So does the specific request meet my personal goals? Perhaps not. Or at least not at this time. These requests must go into a folder where they can be prayed about, submitted to the counsel of others, and possibly postponed for later consideration.

If the request is consistent with my roles and goals, then it needs to be done. Time to proceed to the third question.

(3) Can I accomplish the request in under two minutes?

This is a simple question that can help as you put requests on your schedule.

Can the request be accomplished in two minutes or less? If you can complete the request that quickly then it’s really a no-brainer—complete it immediately. There is no reason to wait, no need to schedule a block of time.

But if the request requires more than two minutes of your time, it will require a place in the schedule.

So that is my process for evaluating requests. If we put this entire process together, it may look something like this flow chart:


It’s not possible to schedule all of our lives (nor should we try). And so there is no misunderstanding: I’m not dependent upon my schedule. My dependence rests upon God himself.

The unexpected will arise each day, needs will emerge that we did not anticipate, and situations that we could not foresee will require our attention.

We should not be surprised by apparent interruptions to our schedule. These are part of God’s purpose and plan for our lives. Go back and read the CS Lewis quote!

CJ Mahaney

Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: