• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

A Simple Deck of Cards

card deckAndy sat across from me at a café and then placed a simple deck of cards in front of me.  Each card represented a critical element that a leader might choose to prioritize in his/her work.  The task was straightforward: make three piles by arranging the cards according to high importance, medium importance, and low importance.

When I was finished, my “high importance” pile was clearly the pile with the most cards.  Then Andy created a fourth category: medium/high importance.  After shifting a number of cards into this pile, I now stood with a “high importance” pile of 6 or 7 cards.

Andy pushed further, “Now take away one more card from the high importance pile.”  I couldn’t.  Everything that was in that pile was of vital importance for my work, or so I thought.  I don’t think I will ever forget Andy’s response: “I didn’t ask you if you could or couldn’t, I told you must take one more card way from that pile.”  He put me face to face with the struggle of prioritization.

Most of us as workers have more priorities than we can actually accomplish in a day, in a month or in a lifetime.  Yes, God wants us to dream BIG, but He tells us to ‘sit down and count the cost’ before we head off into a project, to see if we have the capacity and resources to complete the project.

Setting priorities means not only choosing to focus on one or two key pieces, but it also means learning to say ‘no’ to one thing in order to be able to do another.

Not an easy task.  Maybe you would like to share some ways that God has led you to navigate priorities in a healthy way.

6 Responses

  1. I still struggle, but a couple things help:
    a. Interacting with another person involved; the give/take of interdependence brings clarity to MY priorities.
    b. asking myself (and the Lord); which of these will make more difference a few years from now.

    • Thanks for underlining the need for community in focusing on core priorities. I too find that others can provided the needed perspective that helps me to say ‘no’ to a important priority or delegate it to someone else so that I can focus on the 2-3 core priorities.

  2. How do you choose priorities when it comes to the crunch like that. Maybe the most urgent is not the most important at that moment? Perhaps pick the hardest one?

    • Yes John, you headed us down the right path for discussion. Urgency does not mean core priority. There needs to be other reasons for why we would select one over another.

  3. A bit slow in responding to this but I was once challenged that God would never ask more of me than I can do in a day. He knows I only have 24 hours and I need to sleep some of them… I now more often pray for wisdom than I do for more time…

    • We’re happy to have you respond at any point! The TATJ blog is meant to involve people in a larger discussion of issues facing us in global missions.

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