But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33
Michael Fortino is a time-management specialist. He is one of those capable individuals who analyzes businesses and tells management how to be more productive and efficient, but Fortino has changed his mind about some things. In the 1980s the personal computer was born. Now we have the Internet, e-mail, cell phones, instant messaging. What we thought would be labor saving devices end up eating up more and more of our time.
Fortino has come to recognize that you can't always pack more and more into a given period of time. There is a limit, a point of saturation, and, beyond that, the only thing that increases is your stress level. He compares a lot of us today to a juggler, trying to keep rubber and crystal balls in the air. He likens your job to a rubber ball and your family and health to a crystal ball. "If one of those balls that are rubber falls, it bounces," he says. "If the crystal balls--health and your family--fall, they shatter. And you can't bring them back."
The stress of trying to do it all, to have it all, to be everything to everybody, he believes, has left us a legacy of heart-trouble, burnout and broken homes.
Is he right? Let me answer by describing a question that I asked people in the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, the United States, and one or two South-Sea Islands. I was involved in family conferences, and I asked people to describe their number one problem. I polled people in large cities, in small towns, in business, in agriculture, in industry. Singles, single parents, grandparents, and parents in general. All said pretty much the same thing. What is that number one problem? Time management, handling responsibilities that grow greater every year and keeping your sanity. Was I surprised? Yes, I was. I expect that answer in major cities, but not uniformly, in so many places, including areas where you would think life would be slower.
If today's thoughts have touched a sensitive point in your life, may I leave you with three simple, but powerful guidelines that will help you?
Guideline #1: Keep your own equilibrium. Is this selfish? No, but practical. A person who is drowning in the surf can't rescue anyone. This includes your health, and your relationship with God, which is tremendously important. When you lose touch with your feelings you become vulnerable to a host of problems, some of which you generate. Taking time for yourself includes time to begin your day with prayer and a few moments in the Word.
Guideline #2: Don't try to please everybody. You can't do it. You've got to prioritize the use of your time and energies, and, be sure, some armchair expert will presume to know more about your time than you do. The formula for failure is trying to keep everybody happy all the time. Learning when to say, "No" graciously and kindly is necessary to survival.
Guideline #3: Determine what is important and stay with your priorities. Which is more important--a tidy house or time with your children? More money in your paycheck because you worked overtime, or watching your son's game after school?
God has a will in our lives, which includes our schedules, our families and our careers. Inviting His counsel and help also focuses our vision and helps us to separate the trivial from the important. Remember, life is a series of choices that only you can make.
Resource reading: Matthew 6:25-34.