Which Way Does Your Compass Point?

I have a very unique compass. You do too! Its needle points in one of two directions: urgent or important. I often take out my compass at night. In those quiet moments before my weary body gives way to sleep I ask,

Was my day consumed with the urgent or the important?

You know the difference between the urgent and the important, 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.

We fight this battle every day. It is a war that dates to the dawn of time. No wonder God alludes to it in the 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.

I am prone to lose my way in the jungle of urgent demands and imminent deadlines. That's why I must check my compass every day. I have to ask myself, "What's really important here?" and then redirect my course.

Lewis was right. Doing the important is the only way to get both first and second things! Look at your "To Do" list today? Which way is your compass pointing?

Click here for Jesus' reminder about what comes first!