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Monday, January 19, 2015

Priority Redux

A recent technology study has reminded me how difficult it is to stay on track with priorities. January is a good month to clean things out and make some lofty goals for accomplishment. It is also a good month to evaluate and reorder priorities.

My priority learning curve was shaped in the early 1980s. As a 30-something, I was hitting stride in several areas of life. Work was going well. I was taking night classes. My church wanted some of my time. A community service organization wanted my involvement. All of this began to take its toll. My wonderful wife and three young children were getting less and less of me.

I sought help. My wise counselor turned out to become an important spiritual mentor in my life and a good friend. He simply took me through a couple of stages of priority thinking.

First, he asked me if I had priorities. I did. Well, in my head. He urged me to write each of them down and then describe in a few sentences what each of them meant. Next, I was to keep track of my time over the course of a week without trying to do anything different in my schedule.

It was clear in this process that what I said was important and what I did with my life did not match up. So it was a matter of alignment. Or realignment.

For many years after, I would review those priorities and look at my time commitments. Such a simple process. Such a difficult challenge to fix at times.

So this article on technology has me back on that thinking process. I always have more on my to do list that I can actually do. And technology, while wonderful, complicates life even more. I’m not blaming innovation, just admitting my frustration with it.

The new study comes from the Pew Research Center and Rutgers University. Here’s a summary statement from the article: “Frequent Internet and social media users do not have higher stress levels than those who use technology less often. And for women, using certain digital tools decreases stress.”

Ah c’mon. I have three email accounts, a Facebook page and am on Linked In. My access to the Internet is an invaluable asset to my work. However — I find many more interesting articles to look at than I can handle. In truth, I’m mainly on Facebook to know what my wife is doing! She has virtually hourly updates and if I don’t keep up, OTHERS are telling me about her life.

So the bottom line message is that these advances create a significant challenge to maintaining priorities. I try not to have a complicated life. Reality reveals I drive eighty miles back and forth to work each day. I put in an average of eight to nine hours for work. I have a wife, three adult children and six grandchildren. I serve as an elder at our church. Add in my technology. AAUUGGHH!

If we don’t know our limits, set boundaries, establish priorities and deal with all the technology, we will struggle. And our spiritual life can easily get cast aside. I may feel badly in not keeping up with all my online friends, but this is life in an overcrowded world.

No one lived a simpler life than Jesus of Nazareth. He knew the problems of encumbrances in life. At one point, in sending out his disciples for mission work, he gave this instruction: “Don’t take any money with you; don’t even carry a duffle bag with extra clothes and shoes, or even a walking stick; for those you help should feed and care for you.” (Matthew 10:9-10, The Living Bible)

I don’t know what Jesus would have done about Facebook. Or Pinterest. Or Linked In. Given the option, he might have used Twitter. It’s a pretty efficient way to send the important stuff to followers.


That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook. *smile*

Catch “Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand" weekday afternoons from 4-6pm on AM 1160 Hope for Your Life. To listen to the live broadcast or a podcast of previous shows click here.

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