Have you ever been puzzled about the choices Jesus and the apostles made about how to spend their time and energy?
They didn’t preach to everyone, didn’t heal everyone, and occasionally walked away from situations where they could have stayed and expanded their ministry.
Here’s one example from early in Jesus’s ministry:
And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee. And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. (Mark 1:28-39)
Careful planning is good stewardship of our leadership time and energy. Yet as followers of Jesus we must hold our plans with light, open hands.
You don’t have to listen long before you’ll hear stories from Christian leaders about divine interruptions and unexpected detours in their week that turned out to be eternally significant. Often we are surprised at God’s magnificent response to a simple prayer, the weakest conversation, and the quirkiest part of a sermon.
Listening and obeying are fascinating and joyful parts of God’s kingdom living.
- Ananias didn’t have “go pray over Saul” on his to-do list. (Acts 9:10-12)
- Philip surely had something else in mind when the angel told him to head south on the road to Gaza (Acts 8:26-40) for an unplanned encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch who “just happened” to be reading a particular section of Isaiah. (Acts 8:26-40)
Christians through the centuries share many such treasured stories with incalculable spiritual impact.
Many people know about the 80/20 principle – 80 percent of the value of your work comes from 20 percent of your time and effort. Sometimes it’s 70/30 or 90/10, but the general point is that a disproportionately large fraction of your results come from a small minority of your time.
Fewer people understand that 80/20 is iterative. The 20 percent breaks down into its own 80/20, and so on. The first iteration would predict that 4 percent of your time yields 64 percent of the results:
The challenge is to figure out where to use your time!
What is that 4 percent? Much leadership work is with people – which people should you spend time with and why? How much energy should you allocate for strategic study and preparation?
You could go to 50 respected leaders and get 20 different answers. There’s no clear formula.
Christian leaders are fortunate to have direction from the Holy Spirit. In this age of expanding choices and amplified noise, we need direction to make the highest value choices for our time, attention, and energy.
My observation suggests this is true:
Make time today (and tomorrow) to listen for divine direction. The memos from the Head Office will steer you into the highest value work. Plus, you’ll have even more stories to share about our great God!