The Tyranny of the Urgent by Charles Hummel is a small booklet with a big punch. Written for the business world its message rings true in the Kingdom Life. As a pastor I understand how the urgent becomes a tyrannical dictator of my time. There have been times I felt more like a firefighter in the church, than when I was in the fire department; running here and there putting out fires caused by human friction. At other times I felt more like a referee than a coach, separating players rather than directing them. If for no other reason, I understand how mothers and fathers can fall victim to the tyranny of the urgent.
There is one sentence which really hits me hard, and maybe some of you. And it’s the one thing you must remember this morning:
Don’t Let The Urgent Take The Place Of The Important In Your Life!Charles Hummel, The Tyranny of the Urgent
For you mothers, let me give you some examples of the urgent: getting supper on the table on time; the unexpected guest who arrives at supper time; those stacks of clothes by the washing machine; that spider web in the corner; paying bills; the Mom Taxi; and in the summer time putting up those vegetables for later consumption.
These are a few of the urgent things which we think require our immediate attention. Believe me, the urgent will really fight, claw and scream for attention. It will plead for our time and make us think we’ve done the right thing by calming our nerves when we give in to the urgent.
But the tragedy of this is that while you and I were putting out the fires of the urgent, the important was left in a holding pattern. It’s Interesting To Me That The Tyranny Of The Urgent Will Scream And Shout For Attention, But The Important Is Neither Noisy Nor Demanding. It patiently and quietly waits for us to realize its significance. In this moment, let’s forget the urgent and ask ourselves: “What’s really important to me?” Say it out loud.
This is a big question, maybe one you need some time to think about. It’s one I need to think about often, but not until I get so many irons in the fire that I find myself like the person standing on the stairs wondering, “Was I going up or down?” Then I have to separate the important from the urgent.
Let me give you some insights into real life:
1. We tend to lose vitality as individuals and as the church rather than gain it as time passes.
2. We tend to give greater attention to what we WERE rather than what we are BECOMING. It’s easier to look back and smile on yesterday’s accomplishments rather than look ahead to the future and think about tomorrow’s possibilities.
God’s people are not meant to be museum pieces placed and anchored on a shelf to collect dust. We are alive, moving and active people called by God to make an impact on a world that isn’t quite sure which end is up and it certainly doesn’t ask for our help, and often treats our help with hatred and contempt. To move forward as a family and as The People Of God, we need to determine to keep our lives in step with where God is active and moving!
Look at today’s passage: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-13 (NLT)
Even though Paul’s visit was brief, his coming was not a wasted effort. It may have been brief, but it was not in vain. Paul pinpoints the characteristics of his life and ministry there. In doing so, he gives us 4 essential steps for every mother, parent, in fact, for all of us.
1. Our First Step Is To Be Biblical. verses 2-4
You know how badly we had been treated at Philippi just before we came to you and how much we suffered there. Yet our God gave us the courage to declare his Good News to you boldly, in spite of great opposition. So you can see we were not preaching with any deceit or impure motives or trickery. For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.
I am confident that there was a constant barrage of urgent needs pounding away in Paul’s mind, but he made sure that his life and ministry were firmly fixed first and foremost, on the Scriptures. Did you catch his thoughts as we read:
►When he faced strong opposition, it was the Gospel he proclaimed. ►His motives were not impure but driven by The Truth Of The Word. ►And he considered The Word Of God something entrusted to him and that Word gave him such peace and confidence that he didn’t feel the need to be a people pleaser.
Even though it may sound old fashioned, the first and most significant step we must take is to make the Scriptures a part of our lives. A Word mentality is the secret to being able to turn a deaf ear to the shouts of the urgent, and hear the soft voice of the important. We must daily soak ourselves in the Word—not by dissecting it piece by piece, but by seeing the magnificence of the whole scheme.
For sure it’s rare, and it leads to a great deal of self-examination. But did you catch the end of vs. 4? “He alone examines the motives of our hearts.” As we soak up the truth of God’s word, it goes to work on us. It goes beyond what the surgeon’s scalpel can touch—the soul, the spirit, thoughts, attitudes—the very essence of our being. God uses His truth to shape us and mature us in our walk with Him. Be determined that we are not going to allow the tyranny of the urgent to steal from us all those important moments with God in His Word.
2. The Second Step Paul Gives Is Be Authentic! Verses 5-6
Never once did we try to win you with flattery, as you well know. And God is our witness that we were not pretending to be your friends just to get your money! As for human praise, we have never sought it from you or anyone else.
For a moment, Paul moves the emphasis from the Message to the messenger. Even though he was an apostle, a genuine first century big shot, he did not push for the spotlight. He resisted being a power abuser. He used the authority of Truth, Wisdom And Experience. This was the type of leader Paul was. He did not take advantage of his role. Right alongside his desire to be biblical was his desire to be authentic.
The dictionary defines authentic by suggesting 3 things it is NOT:
►it’s not imaginary;
►it’s not false;
►it’s not an imitation.
Today we would say that being authentic means not being phony; free of the hype that so permeates our world. Let’s make this a priority in our homes and our churches. In the midst of all that’s called fantastic or super or awesome—let’s work hard at being real.
This means we are free to question; to admit failure or weakness; to confess wrong; and to declare truth. Great mothers, great Christians, great saints are not those who look super pious. Dr. David Naglee, in whose classes I learned so much about the Bible, once said: “The more I study the Bible, the more I realize how much I don’t know!” You don’t have to be perfect or expect perfection, just be real. Authentic people enjoy life more. They don’t take themselves so seriously. They actually laugh and cry and think more freely because they have nothing to prove—no image to protect—no role to play. They have nothing to hide. As we study the Word, let’s also be committed more to being authentic and less to being superficially pious!
3. The Third Step Is To Be Gracious! Verses 7-11
Don’t you remember, dear brothers and sisters, how hard we worked among you? Night and day we toiled to earn a living so that we would not be a burden to any of you as we preached God’s Good News to you. You yourselves are our witnesses—and so is God—that we were devout and honest and faultless toward all of you believers. And you know that we treated each of you as a father treats his own children.
Paul had a Grace-Filled Spirit! Did you hear his word pictures? He cared for them like they were his children. He didn’t want to dump a truckload of theological data on them. He wanted to share not only the Gospel, but his life with them as well. As parents, and especially as the church, we have to be careful not to become so judgmental that we forget to be compassionate. Yes, there are times to be firm, but we must remember to weave the thread of grace into our talk and attitudes.
We must remember that people are far more important than rigid rules and demanding expectations. Somehow, we must regain The Idea That People Are More Important, PERIOD! If my children can’t remember all the rules I laid down, that is all right—as long as they can remember the sound of laughter in our home. This point was driven home when Leslie once wrote an essay for her high school English class, on ME! It ended up in the teen section of the Times Daily. Now, I don’t remember exactly what she wrote, probably because I chose to forget it—but I do remember the laughter we shared over it. Be gracious! Now, one more step to bind all these together:
4. Our Fourth Step Is To Be Available! Verse 13
We never stop thanking God that when you received his message from us, you didn’t think of our words as mere human ideas. You accepted what we said as the very word of God—which, of course, it is. And this word continues to work in you who believe.
Make yourself available wherever people are. If we are going to reach our children, grandchildren and society in this 21st century, we must make our presence a high priority! That’s exactly what Jesus did. He met people as they were, not as they ought to be. Angry young men, proud politicians, loose living street walkers, dirty and naked victims of demonism, and grieving parents all received equal time, and because He did, they hung on every word Jesus had to say.
Even though He could have blown them away with His power and authority, Jesus intentionally related to them on their level. And I am concerned that it is we, the Church, who have hauled His cross out of sight. It is we, the church, who have left the impression that the cross belongs only in the sophisticated halls of academia or surrounded by beautiful stained glass. We must bring the cross out where people live! Before God can raise them up, we must reach out to them on their grounds—to literally take the cross into the world!
Now, let’s go back to something I said at the beginning:
The Tyranny Of The Urgent Will Scream And Shout For Attention, But The Important Is Neither Noisy Nor Demanding. It Patient And Quietly Waits For Us To Realize Its Significance.
The tyranny of the urgent will always out-shout the essential nature of the important—if we let it! The secret in is taking the right steps:
- Set a firm foundation—Be Biblical
- Apply the truth of scriptures—Be Authentic
- Develop a compassionate spirit—Be Gracious
- Meet people where they are—Be Available
When we do this, Christianity becomes something that is absorbed, not just worn. It is more than believed, it is incarnated. Are you imprisoned by the tyranny of the urgent? Then be set free by what’s really important—this life in Christ—the Kingdom Life!
Are you consistently taking all 4 of these steps? If not, God invites you to His altar to confess it—agree God is right; and to repent—turn away from it. If you are not already doing it, come and renew your commitment or make your first commitment to—Scripture, Authenticity, Graciousness, and Availability—the children in your life, and to a world that desperately needs you to be this!