Share the Joy

Remember when we talked about pruning your to-do list? Well, there is another way to keep your task load in good shape.

Keep in mind that responsibility doesn’t always mean doing it with your own hands.

  • If your time can be better spent elsewhere and your budget allows, use a grocery pick service or even delivery service.
  • You may like how your dishwasher loading system works, but would your call to love your children include training them in that particular chore and responsibility?

An excellent help in looking for delegation opportunities can be found in your husband and/or your boss. Taking a step back and getting a wider view can make a big change in your perspective. They see what you can’t, right in the middle of each day.

  • If your husband values your time more than a cooked-from-scratch meal (and, again, your budget allows), perhaps sandwiches or (relatively) healthy takeout should be in the weekly meal plan more often. A walk together before dinner might be a better use of your time.
  • Are you spending a large percentage of your day doing something that is really someone else’s responsibility or could be easily transferred? Check. Your boss may rather you do what only you can do. You may add more value and more excellent work by eliminating that task from your list.

Delegation can be good, not an automatic failure. Yes, this can take an investment in money or training, but the goal would be one less task for your every day and time freed up for what is most valuable and can serve God best with your time.

Cut It Loose

A to-do list can be a great tool. But like every great tool, it’s not magic. It does take skill to use and maintain excellent tools. How can we hone our skill set with this tool?

One way is pruning. When you look at your to-do list, if it doesn’t fit with your priorities, both daily and ultimate, and is not reasonable for the day or current situation, cut it loose. Chop it off. Let it go.

This will help keep you on point, staying on the path to which you have been called. Paying attention to your priorities in the little, daily tasks will help you as you make the best use of your time each day. There are many good things, but you cannot do EVERY good thing. Examine your list and make sure you are doing what is best.

If you have 12 things on your list, review them to see if some really don’t reflect love for God or for your neighbor or help you do either of those things.

  • Did you write it down initially because it sounded cool, but now you’re really not sure why it would be good to do? Cross it off and move on.
  • Are you adding items to make you feel productive or important? “Look how long my list is. I’m irreplaceable.” Let’s go back to your identity as a child of God only by the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-10). Test your list in light of that truth.
  • Does your day look like everyone else’s because you feel you need to go with the flow? Just because a friend or even a reality TV star arranges fresh flowers for her home everyday, doesn’t mean that you must. (Your allergy-prone friend might even thank you for not!) Just because your neighbor does it, doesn’t mean you have to. You answer to God for your time and she for hers, and you can both hear “Well done” with task lists that don’t match. If there is no value other than peer pressure, get rid of it.

Pruning will also help you stop sabotaging yourself. Often we hang on to things that we will never actually do (and shouldn’t necessarily do) and repeat the failure loop. Set yourself up for success, true success. Bring glory to God in all that you do.

 

Rest

You need rest.

No, really, you do.

And it needs to be regular rest, not just when you are forced into the hospital with a health crisis.

You need a regular cycle of hard work and quiet rest.

For one thing, it helps with a quiet life. Regular times of rest, at the proper times, bring down the overall activity level. That will help keep your life and schedule from spinning out of control. It gives your mind, body, and soul the refreshing you need to restore energy and keep going with the other responsibilities that do need to be done.

Primarily, though, you being willing to stop carrying the weight of the world and doing everything for everybody demonstrates dependence on God. Often we don’t stop moving because we are afraid the sky will fall if we stop holding it up. We aren’t holding it up, of course, but it is easy to act as if we were. And without proper rest, it is even easier to be ruled by our emotions and external triggers. In contrast, stopping frantic activity and just being — taking a deep breath, sitting and thinking, taking a nap, pausing to just catch up with a neighbor in the back yard, keeping a sabbath rest, not always working — will show our confidence in God’s sovereignty and constant care for us.

God set this tone of regular rest for us when he established the Sabbath day, when he set out the week. He knows us. He created us. He is such a good God providing good gifts.

So how can we love God? Sometimes it’s by taking a short rest in the middle of the day, doing our best to fill our responsibilities well AND knowing that He is in control of the universe so it’s safe to step away from our work in faith.

Procrastination and Chaos

Remember when we talked about a quiet life? Well, let’s spend a few more minutes on that idea.

Let’s talk about the things that you put off, the stuff you need to do but don’t want to deal with right now, the tasks you aren’t excited about so you don’t make time or plan time to do them, the jobs you’re hoping will magically just get done. You know, THAT stuff.

Here’s the thing: putting anything off until the last minute makes it much more likely that completing it will cause turmoil and disturbance. That chaos may be in your emotions or your day or in the work that is done or all three, but it will show up somewhere.

Procrastinating something you don’t like will also mean you have no flexibility to fit work in comfortably or be more creative (or even awake). Once you get down to the deadline, it has to be done — and fast. No room to maneuver and no time for anything else.

Sometimes we put things off because they are looming like a little black rain cloud over our heads, a constant presence. Other times, we put things off to another day and then forget. We forget until the crucial moment, that is, when it becomes a shocking and/or embarrassing surprise. Once you know it needs to be done, taking a minute or two to make a plan, with action steps if needed, to get it done at the right time saves you the headache of forgetting down the road. Even if you decide not to do anything for two months, the entry on your calendar in two months prevents it from falling off the radar.

Finally, because procrastination was the plan, you will feel all the painful results of not planning. You will waste mental energy reacting rather than calmly working the plan. You will generate confusion, because you’re not sure what you are doing and when.  You will not be making the best use of your time, and that lack of success is discouraging.

Hopefully seeing the dark side will be motivate you to stay on top of plans and priorities. Taking the time in advance pays off by cutting out these downsides. Don’t get caught with a mess on your hands.

A Quiet Life

…let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. (I Peter 3:4)

Paul also urged prayer “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior…” (I Timothy 2:2-3).

What is a quiet life? If it pleases God, let’s seek that out and work toward having one!

The idea behind the words here is tranquil, defined by Webster’s as “free from agitation of mind or spirit…disturbance or turmoil.” Murray Harris noted on the word quiet in 1 Peter 3:4 — “a spirit which calmly bears the disturbances created by others and which itself does not create disturbances” (The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3:112).

When you look at your life, do you see quiet or turmoil? Are you handling the chaos around you calmly or creating even more? Many things make a difference on that, but let’s look at just a few.

  • First taking the time and making the effort to quiet your heart as you rest in the God Who is Enough and lean on His understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6) will set the right tone in every other area.
  • Doing a quick check of your schedule and workload to see what may be hurting your health will help also. The recent book Refresh does a great job of walking you through that process.
  • I Thessalonians 4:11 brings in the concept of minding our own work to the need to live quietly. Would a focus on our own responsibilities, while letting go of what isn’t our concern, help with getting rid of some agitation? It is so easy to be distracted, but the cost is high.
    Proverbs 31:27 also contrasts idleness with looking well to the ways of the household. Working when we should, at the right time, helps with keeping things on track and calm.
  • A calendar that you manage well will help a lot with a quiet day. Staying on task and doing what needs to be done will give you quiet progress. Not knowing what all should be done and always reacting to anything that happens by will create turmoil and overload your mind as you keep trying to keep up in the dark.

What have you found helpful as you quiet your heart and home?