I have a very unique compass. Its needle points in one of two directions: urgent or important. I take out my compass at night in those quiet moments before my weary body gives way to sleep and ask, "Was my day consumed with the urgent or the important?" You know the difference don’t you?
- Answering the phone is urgent; picking up the phone to call a friend is important.
- Reading mail is urgent; writing a letter is important.
- Being seen at the company golf tournament is urgent; being at your daughter’s play is important.
- Rushing off to work is urgent; slowing down to be with God is important.
- Catching ESPN Sports Center is urgent; praying with your kids is important.
- Being noticed is urgent, noticing others is important.
The battle between the urgent and the important is fought every day. The history of the war dates to the dawn of time. No wonder God alludes to it in the Old Testament book of Proverbs:
“Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after that build your house.” (Proverbs 24:27 NIV)
Whether your plans include building a house, building a financial portfolio, building up a child or building your relationship with God, understanding the distinction between the urgent and the important is critical. Doing the important is essential. C.S. Lewis wrote, “Put first things first and get second things thrown in, put second things first and we lose both first and second things.”
Which way is your compass pointing: In your friendships, your relationship with your spouse, your walk with God, or life in general?
I am prone to lose my way in the jungle of urgent demands and deadlines, so I must to check my compass every day, evaluate my life, and redirect my course. Lewis is right, doing the important is the only way to get both first and second things!
FOCAL POINT: Ask God for wisdom to see and do the important. Why not write “Check the compass” on a post-it-note as your reminder.
Copyright © 2010 Tommy Kiedis
 Letters of C.S. Lewis (23 April, 1951), para. 2, p. 228.