EQ and To Do Lists

Jenny Lichte
Volunteers to recruit. Lessons to prep. Classrooms to clean. Materials to collect. I have so many things to do at work that are tangible, and visible, and easy to cross off a to-do list. Maybe because of that, or possibly because those things all involve other people as well, those activities tend to be the first things I do each week. And yet, is that best? Are these things more pressing than, say, studying the word more deeply for my personal growth, reading a book the new moms are all talking about, writing thank you notes, or taking a new family out for ice cream? And of course none of these things even begin to touch on all the responsibilities that wait outside the workplace. With so many things on my plate, how can I possibly sort out what comes first and what can wait?

First, pray. Yes, it’s simple, but no, it isn’t trite. Put these things on a piece of paper. Grab a fresh sheet. Now stop and ask the Lord to lead you to what needs to come first, what needs to be handed off to others, and what needs to wait.

Secondly, trust. Trust that God is in the details. He is the reason you are in a ministry position, and the reason you are a husband or wife or daughter or son or mother or father or neighbor or friend. And just as intimately as he knows you and what your capacity is, he knows all those you have responsibilities to and connections with. He is the one who provides for their needs. He is the one who heals, saves, protects, nurtures, restores. Not you. Trust that God will take care of each person he brings to your mind to the same degree that he will take care of you.

Now, think through your own emotional state, your own strengths and weaknesses, and your own gifts and abilities. Using that knowledge, what can you dive into and get done quickly? Sometimes these items can be rewarding to get done first because all at once, you can shorten that list by several lines and be reminded that God specifically created you for the life and job and responsibilities he’s given you.

Sometimes, you may find it more helpful to tackle the big, heavy items first, or even set aside all of Monday when you’re fresh from the weekend, or all of Wednesday when you have no meetings that will interrupt you. Scheduling the items that are the most difficult can remind you that even hard conversations or multi-faceted projects can be reduced to one or a few squares on a calendar.

Once you’ve put your list on a schedule, review how this will affect any who may be depending on you, how this will affect co-workers or family members who have expectations of you, and how this uses or abuses your own desire to serve. Make adjustments or communicate clearly and compassionately with others as necessary before you begin your week so that you won’t find yourself mid-week being hurled in a new direction because of someone else’s crisis (unless you’re at the “things that can wait” part of your list and the unexpected crisis fits in with your abilities to navigate).

Last, and maybe most importantly, hold your plans loosely. “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord…”. God knows the plans he has for us. You maybe wrote this down, but God is the author of your life. Be eagerly anticipating his taking charge of your schedule, watching and listening to move as he directs…even if that means your carefully constructed page of to-dos goes into the trash.
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Meet the author


          Jenny Lichte is the Director of Children's Ministry at Grace EPC in Lawrence, Kansas. She and her husband, Jason, graduated from Baylor University. They have five children.
          Jenny has taught kindergarten and high school, has volunteered with children in numerous capacities, and has been in ministry for over 13 years.  Jenny is passionate about Jesus, about children, and about equipping adults to see and interact with children as the incredible humans they are. 
          To contact her, email: jenny@gepc.org.
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