Offer Them Christ
The Weblog Of J.F. Howard

Keep It Simple

             Every day we have so many things to do, so many things that urgently demand our attention. That is true for me. Is it true for you too?

            Just recently I went to the grocery store. One of the items on my shopping list was to look for a certain flavor of dressing for the dinner menu that night. When I got to the aisle with the dressings I stood there in wonder for a while gazing at all the choices of salad dressings, barbeque sauces, and marinades. There was every flavor one could imagine. I think I counted in the neighborhood of 175 different types. It was an amazing sight to behold. I thought to myself, “I could spend an hour here looking over all these choices.” When I came back to my senses I realized that so much of life is like the salad dressing aisle at the grocery store—so many choices, so little time!

            So how do we get anything of significance done in a world with so many choices and possibilities?

            The key is to simplify and prioritize.

            Yes, it is easier to say it than to do it, but let’s try.

            I was already  in my 40’s before I realized that I could not do everything that I wanted to do, let alone all that others wanted me to do, and still do all that God wanted me to do. So for the last several years I have begun the process of simplifying and prioritizing. I was learning the hard way, what Michael LeBoef meant when he said, “Devoting a little of yourself to everything means committing a great deal of yourself to nothing.”  

            Years ago I came across the “Pareto Principle.” It is an idea derived from an Italian economist named Vilfredo Pareto. The principle says that if we focus our attention on the top 20% of our priorities, we would get an 80% return on our effort. The idea is that we spend 80% of our time on the most important 20% of our responsibilities, and 20% of our time on the other 80% of our tasks.

            So the key to managing the demands on our lives is to ask ourselves, “What are the top 20% of the things I need to do? What are the most important priorities of my life?” Then, we need to give ourselves to those things. The rest we work on later, or we delegate.

            When I was looking at my life and thinking of the importance of simplifying, I came across this example from the life of Jesus:

35 In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and his companions hunted for him. 37 When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” 38 He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” {Mark 1:35-38}

            In the face of many important, valid, and urgent requests, Jesus was confident what His priorities were. He could articulate, “This is what I have come to do.”

            Chinese philosopher Lin Yutang said, “Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists of the elimination of nonessentials.”

            What is essential in your life today?

            What are your top priorities? 

             If someone were to ask you, “What is your purpose in life today?” would you have an answer?


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