This is that time of year that many of us focus on what is MOST important and realize that the urgent is rarely important in the scheme of things. It is easy to get distracted by shiny things or just anything that may be fun for now but may not add value now or later. I heard this from Andy Stanly and I love it….. “Most of the things we get distracted by are not as important as the things that we get distracted from.”
I do much thinking and planning and when I do I have to think of what are the things that add the most value to my life and to the lives of others. This year and in this season I believe we are called to focus on those things that are most important to get us the life that we say that we want.
Sometimes for me I have to come up with a mantra or a sound principle that I live by to keep me on task. I heard a story about a man called Nehemiah and thankfully my life has not been threatened when I am focused on a task but I sure have been tempted to leave the task at hand for what seems urgent, or sometimes just anything that may be easier.
Let me paraphrase this cool ancient story that is most relevant today!!!
Nehemiah was a jewish leader who supervised the rebuilding of Jerusalem in the mid 5th century BC. In this time in History it was shameful and dangerous for the walls of the city to not be reinforced and at the time Jeruselam was in shambles and the city gates and the walls were ineffective in protecting the citizens.
What is interesting to note is that as long as the city was in a devastated state the outer regions were not concerned because Jerusalem was in its place and was certainly no threat. Fast forward to Nehemah the governor who was the best kind of leader,he not only led the building of the wall he climbed up and worked on the wall alongside his laborers and citizens.
When Nehemiah and the workers started to do significant work, the surrounding cities and people were now threatened and jealous and it was their mission to stop the work. As the walls were being built not only were people threatened they decided that Nehemiah was a problem and set out to distract him and get him off the wall to kill him.
A fellow named Sandlot did all that he could to entice Nehemiah to come down from the wall. Asking him to lunch and promising him excitement and sounding quite tempting. But Nehemiah each and every time shouted down to him. “ I am doing important work and I can not come down.” Sandlot continued to distract and give Nehemah all kinds of reasons to come down. What would it hurt? But each and every time, Nehemiah shouted down, “ I am doing important work and I can not come down.”
The walls of the city were secured and the people began a time of thriving under the direction and kindness and compassion of their governor. The cool thing to me about this fellow besides the fact that he put on his work boots and stayed steadfast to what was the most important task at hand. Nehemiah was known as a generous and giving leader, when he was given resources he shared them with others and was not concerned to amass great wealth.
What I imagine is that I am most grateful that if I get off task, my life is not in jeopardy but maybe my BEST life and fulfillment and future are threatened. I am hoping that I become very aware of my limited time on this planet and I fill it with things that matter. I want to make sure if I have a belief in something that I climb up the wall and help build the city.
I believe that this year it is important that we focus on what is important over urgent. It is vital that I question what I put my time and energy into and that if I am doing something of value for myself and others I have the courage and the tenacity to shout down to the doubters and distractors and my critics ….. “ I am doing a great work and I can not come down.”
Let’s kick off this year with purpose and enthusiasm. Let us NOT be distracted by our critics or bad news or nay sayers and doubters. I have found that to do something great we have to tune out those that would not be on the wall building with us. Don’t come down, I will stay up there with you!!!!