This is the first chapter of my book, “Leave Nothing Undone: 13 Key Lessons from the Life of Joshua.” I have also provided the audio of this chapter, if you prefer to listen to it:
Joshua was a man that set his priorities. Exodus 33:11 tells us that “Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.” He had a priority of putting the things of God first.
There are also several times the Bible tells us that Joshua had a priority and habit of waking up early:
(Joshua 3:1) And Joshua rose early in the morning; and they removed from Shittim, and came to Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over.
(Joshua 6:12) And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD.
(Joshua 7:16) So Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel by their tribes; and the tribe of Judah was taken:
(Joshua 8:10) And Joshua rose up early in the morning, and numbered the people, and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai.
There are times that the yard needs to be taken care of. It needs to be mowed, edged, trimmed, etc. There are times that I enjoy getting out and doing these things, but there are many times that I don’t. I’d rather be doing something else –
something more productive or important. I hired someone to do the work for me one summer, and it felt good! The yard was taken care of (very well, I might add!), and I spent some quality time with my family. The yard was urgent, but not necessarily important.
Well-known Baptist preacher, Jack Hyles, once said that life is too short to do everything you’re supposed to do – or that you want to do. That means that something must be left undone. The sad thing is that most of us leave the important things undone, in place of the less important things.
Why is this? It’s because the big things never clamor for your time. They don’t jump up and nag you until you do something. They just sit there, waiting for you to act on them.
So, the important things must be done on purpose. Priorities have to be placed on things.
Specific priorities will differ from person to person, and even from day to day. This is not fluctuation or inconsistency in your values or ethics –just a change in specific duties and responsibilities.
Dave Ramsey, in his book EntreLeadership, shares about four quadrants (he got this from Stephen Covey). They
- Important and urgent
- Important, but not urgent
- Not important, but urgent
- Not important and not urgent
We need to avoid the fourth quadrant, because it is a total waste of our time. The first quadrant is normally not an issue for us – we understand that these need to be taken care of with high priority. The problem lies in the middle two – the gray areas, if you will.
The things that are not important, but seem to be urgent, are the things you tend to hang up on. They shout for your time and attention, but are not necessarily the most important things you need to focus on. Maybe there is someone else who can help to take care of those: a team member (in a work situation), a family member, a good friend, or someone you could hire to do the work (as in my situation with my lawn).
There are also the things that are important, but there is no urgency. They don’t need to be done right away. We tend to procrastinate with these things. They get put off long enough, that they do become urgent. Urgency tends to make us rush through the task, and that leads to a loss in quality. It would be much better for us to take care of these before they become urgent.
I was always terrible with procrastination in school. I would get a project or report assigned at the beginning of the semester. I would have great intentions at the beginning to begin working on it right away and set a schedule for the rest of it. I would put an hour or two into it right away – just enough to look over the requirements and maybe nail down an idea or two. I might get a little bit of research done. But, there is no urgency – it’s not due for another two months. The report falls to the back burner, only to get toasted to a crisp when I pick it up again the week before it’s due. Then I proceed to put in several hours a day, losing sleep, and trying to cut corners by changing the font size and margins. I’m still not sure why those reports didn’t get an A+.
It’s time to set some priorities.
It’s time to list out what we need to do, and put them in order of importance. Then, we take the most important things and see which ones must be done first – the most urgent of the important. Dave Ramsey even suggests to list the things that must be done today, and label them with an “A” – then to order them from most important to least important. Then to list the things that would be nice to get done today, but could wait until tomorrow, and label them with a “B” – again ordering them from most to least important. The “C” list would then include things are of low importance.
However you do it, you need to make sure that you do something to prioritize the things that need to get done. They won’t get done by accident – you must be intentional.
A list can start with just some generalized categories. Just for an example, my personal priorities are as follows:
You can then, take these categories and expand into more specific details. For example, God is my first priority. What does that really mean? What is involved in that? Some things that would be more specific would include Bible reading an
d prayer every day. For family, it can include spending an hour in the evenings with my kids or having a date night with my wife (without the kids).
As we work to identify our priorities and place them in a certain order, we can then begin to actively identify what things are most important to us.
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The book is available in Kindle format and in paperback.
Question: How are your priorities?