“Our greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important ones.” — Charles Hummel
The pace of my life during the last year has been, if anything, frenetic. I’ve managed content on six websites (a seventh was added in the spring), coordinated social media efforts for each site, contributed to a dozen other campaigns and projects, written for the magazines, traveled somewhat extensively (I was home for roughly six days combined in May) and dealt with all the other little difficulties that come with living and breathing on planet Earth.
I don’t bemoan having plenty of projects on my plate at any given time, and in fact I’m typically happy to stay busy. But there is a point when you pause to take inventory of your life and realize you’re accomplishing a lot of stuff—but maybe not the stuff that is most important to you.
Two events this last summer have forced me to evaluate the outcome of my life. I share them because I think each one of us at some point has to honestly assess what really matters to us and whether or not we’re spending our time pursuing those things.
First, in June, I was on an ATV ride when one of the young ladies rolled her ATV and was killed. Second, a week ago, I was flying home from Arizona when my Mom texted to tell me that Dad was in critical condition at the hospital and would likely need emergency, open-heart surgery. Both events were sobering, to say the least.
As I talked to my Dad during the days before surgery when he wasn’t sure he was going to live and his major arteries kept trying to collapse, I was confronted by the realization that we’ll all face death, without exception. When we do, if we’re given the chance to reflect, will there be things we wished we done but never got around to? Can we say we spent our time doing what held the most lasting value?
Listening to Dad reflect on his life, his only real regrets were not spending more time with his family doing the things we all love to do together. When it came to his job and the high level of stress that’s contributed to his deteriorating heart condition, he said he wished he’d spent less time anxiously toiling at work, not more.
Sure, I’ve been busy with a lot of good things. But sometimes good things can keep you from doing the things that have lasting value. I want to spend more time in the outdoors with my boys, and I want to pour into them as I work alongside them. I want to show them how to work hard and enjoy God’s creation. I want to write more.
As Charles Hummel said in his book, “Freedom From the Tyranny of the Urgent,” “Our greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important ones.” The great temptation for all of us is to fill our schedules, our homes and our working hours with a cluttered mess of tasks and material possessions that actually rob us of real joy. There’s just too much to keep track of, and it overwhelms us.
Which brings you and me back to the question of what really matters in our life. What do you really value? Are you doing it now, or at least working toward it? Or are the most valuable things in your life being crowded out by tons of good but less important things?