Each and every one of us is resource constrained. Even Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are resource constrained—maybe not by money, but certainly by time. We each have the same 168 hours per week. Even Bill and Warren, with all their billions, can’t buy more time!
No leader I know has a shortage of work that comes their way, and committing to one thing necessarily means you cannot do something else. The mere act of choosing what project to work on is an act of setting priorities.
Sometimes that choice is an easy one. One project is clearly better than another. But what do you do when several competing projects are before you and they are all good? You can’t do them all—you don’t have enough time! Now, how do you choose?
While the Bible does not specifically lay out a process for making decisions about priorities it does provide guidance.
The parable of the Rich Fool in Luke 12:16-21 describes a young rich man who is a successful farmer. A bumper crop comes in so he builds bigger and bigger barns, laying up his riches so that he can take it easy. But God calls him a fool for laying up treasures on earth rather than being rich toward God.
This young man had his priorities in the wrong order:
1) He wanted to accumulate as much wealth as he could, and
2) He wanted to use his wealth for his own use in retirement.
He was focused on earthly wealth rather than on spiritual wealth that comes from being rich toward God.
Paul, writing to the Colossians, explains clearly that our priority should be:
so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10).
1) Walking in a way that is pleasing to God,
2) Bearing fruit in every good work, and
3) Increasing our knowledge of God.
In their book, The Minister’s MBA, authors George Babbes and Michael Zigarelli, outline five issues that affect executive decision making that can be employed as a model for helping to establish priorities:
1) Framing. When framing a decision beware of bias—either pro or con. Frame problems neutrally.
2) Information Access. Often we make decisions based on data that is most recent and more easily recalled. Be careful seek out all relevant information to make decisions.
3) Coding and Information Processing. Be careful to not give an inordinate amount of weight to our first impressions or the first information we receive. Wait until all relevant facts are in before beginning the process of decision making.
4) Cognitive Consistency and Optimism. We are often reluctant to challenge the status quo. It takes less energy to keep doing thing the way they have always been done. To make a good decision we need to get past this tendency and see things as they really are.
5) Group Issues. The momentum that comes from a group can easily sway a decision one direction or another. Beware group think and its tendency to reduce constructive thinking.
When making decisions between competing priorities remember:
1) We are all resource constrained: saying yes to one priority necessarily means saying no to something else!
2) Our Biblical priority is three-fold: to walk in a way that is pleasing to God, to bear fruit in every work, and to increase our knowledge of God.
3) When making priority decisions remember to frame the decision properly, seek out all relevant information, remain neutral until all relevant facts are in, don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo, and don’t allow group think to short-circuit the decision-making process!
Join the Conversation
As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you gotten off-track by selecting a priority that took you away from God’s best (like the rich fool)? What did you do to get back on track? What did you learn from that experience?
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Category: Personal Development | Priorities