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Is There Really Enough Time To Do All…?

©Write the Vision
©Write the Vision

I would like to suggest that you do something different this year.


Let me explain.

Dan and I got married in July of 1984. By 1995 we had:

  • Completed 4 years of medical school – we were told a lot of marriages don’t survive medical school
  • Completed 3 years of residency – we were told a lot of marriages don’t survive residency
  • Had 3 babies in 5 years – the last one involved 3 months of bed rest for me and Eric was still born by emergency C-section 7 weeks early.
  • Bought a 100-year-old house that needed total renovation – we gutted it the first day we had it. Two days later, Eric was diagnosed with leukemia.
  • We went through 3 ½ years of chemotherapy for Eric, who was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 16 months old. Once again we were told at our first oncologist interview that a lot of marriages don’t survive having a child with cancer.

We were in survival mode. There seemed to be no end to difficult times and all we could do was continue to press on.

So in 1995 when Dan said he wanted to go away with me and set goals, that was the last thing I wanted to do. I already felt like a failure in every area of my life. Setting goals meant you had to make an effort to meet them and I just wasn’t up for any more failure.

He insisted, so I finally agreed to go away overnight to “set goals.”

Is There Really Enough Time To Do All...?

We spent some time just relaxing and being a couple again. Over coffee and Mountain Dew I finally realized that Dan’s choice of words – goal setting – wasn’t really what he had in mind. He knew we were in trouble and wanted to try to encourage me, and he wanted me to encourage him too.

That one day was probably one of the most important days of our lives because we decided to quit living in survival mode and live our lives more intentionally. We wanted to be more proactive in how we used our time and energy. And we wanted to do those things that would bring glory to the Lord. We wanted to do more than just survive.

[Tweet “We wanted to do more than just survive.”]

We read an article during that time away – “Where Does Your Time Fly?” by Charles Hummel. Subtitle: How can you become free from the tyranny of the urgent?

In his article, “Where Does Your Time Fly?”  Charles Hummel, InterVarsity’s former director of faculty ministries, now deceased, talks about what he calls the tyranny of the urgent.

  • He starts out by asking, “Is there really enough time to do all that God requires of you?”

[Tweet ““Is there really enough time to do all that God requires of you?””]

  • Then he asks, “Have you ever wished for a thirty-hour day?

His next paragraphs go on to explain the real problem:


“When we stop to evaluate, we realize that our dilemma goes deeper than shortage of time; it is basically the problem of priorities. Hard work does not hurt us. We all know what it is to go full speed for long hours, totally involved in an important task. The resulting weariness is matched by a sense of achievement and joy. Not hard work, but doubt and misgiving produce anxiety as we review a month or year and become oppressed by the pile of unfinished tasks. We sense uneasily that we may have failed to do the important. The winds of other people’s demands have driven us onto a reef of frustration. We confess, quite apart from our sins, ‘We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.’

Several years ago an experienced cotton mill manager said to me, ‘Your greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important.’ He didn’t realize how hard his maxim hit. It often returns to haunt and rebuke me by raising the critical problem of priorities.

We live in constant tension between the urgent and the important. The problem is that the important task seldom must be done today or even this week. Extra hours of prayer and Bible study, a visit with that non-Christian friend, careful study of an important book: these projects can wait. But the urgent tasks call for instant action—endless demands pressure every hour and day.

A man’s home is no longer his castle; it is no longer a place away from urgent tasks because the telephone breaches the walls with imperious demands. The momentary appeal of these tasks seems irresistible and important, and they devour our energy. But in the light of time’s perspective their deceptive prominence fades; with a sense of loss we recall the important task pushed aside. We realize we’ve become slaves to the tyranny of the urgent.”

He goes on to say that we can escape by looking at the life of the Lord. At the time of His death He was able to say, “I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.”

“His (Jesus’) life was never feverish; He had time for people.”

Charles Hummel then lists ways that the Lord avoided the tyranny of the urgent. I would direct you to read it for yourself by going to the above link – it’s just too good to miss in its entirety.

I want to quote one last paragraph because it really affected how Dan and I took steps to change the way we were living.


“The modern businessman recognizes this principle of taking time out for evaluation. One president of Du-Pont said, ‘One minute spent in planning saves three or four minutes in execution.’ Many salesmen have revolutionized their business and multiplied their profits by setting aside Friday afternoon to plan carefully the major activities for the coming week. If an executive is too busy to stop and plan, he may find himself replaced by another man who takes time to plan. If the Christian is too busy to stop, take spiritual inventory, and receive his assignments from God, he becomes a slave to the tyranny of the urgent. He may work day and night to achieve much that seems significant to himself and others, but he will not finish the work God has for him to do.”

We decided that in order to take control of our lives again we just had to take time to seek the Lord and plan for the things that were important to us.

We decided to make this an annual event, but agreed that we wanted to take the children along if possible.

We’ve actually done that every year since 1995 and have written an ebook titled “Purposeful Planning” based on what we’ve done during those times and how it has affected our lives.

Next week I’ll go in to a little more detail about our planning times. If you can’t wait until then you can purchase a copy of our book “Purposeful Planning” and read all about it.

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  • Michelle in OK
    Posted January 19, 2016 at 11:39 AM

    My biggest problem with planning is that I don’t really know what I should be doing–or even what I ~want~ to be doing. My focus this year is to learn to really pray and LISTEN when He sends messages to me.

    I wanted to comment, though, because I had to giggle when you said coffee and Mt Dew were your planning drinks–that is exactly what I and my husband drink and I am amused by how many couple I know with the same set of tastes.

    Also, the link to the article is no longer correct, but I found this one [ ]

    Thanks for this article–I will watch for the next.


    • Post Author
      Phyllis Sather
      Posted January 19, 2016 at 12:08 PM

      I’m glad you enjoyed my post. Thank you so much for letting me know about the link. I should have checked that!

      My book Purposeful Planning might be of help to you. Would you be interested in a free copy of the ebook? You could review it if you like – but not necessary.

  • Jennifer
    Posted January 18, 2016 at 4:24 PM

    Phyllis, I appreciate the depth with which you’ve exhorted us here. If decades ago, Hummel sensed the distractions and disturbances caused by a single telephone in the home, how much more emphatic would his counsel be for us today? Thank you for sharing this with us at Grace & Truth. I’m pleased to feature it at A Divine Encounter on Friday. 🙂

    • Post Author
      Phyllis Sather
      Posted January 18, 2016 at 6:24 PM

      Thank you Jennifer. I know what you mean. I kept thinking I would wait to do X until we got back to normal – then I realized this was normal.

      Thanks for featuring me. Please send me a link and I’ll promote it too.

      This article is part of the introduction to my book Purposeful Planning – if you are interested. I would be glad to send you a free copy.

  • Amanda H
    Posted January 15, 2016 at 12:34 AM

    I love this post. It gives me a moment to pause for a moment and think about what I have been doing everyday. Thank you for sharing this!

    • Post Author
      Phyllis Sather
      Posted January 15, 2016 at 1:41 PM

      You are so welcome. I like knowing where we are going because it makes it easier to make decisions about what to include in our schedule and what to leave out.

  • Trena
    Posted January 14, 2016 at 11:12 PM

    Great post! We do fail to plan and then, of course, evaluate. We run from one “crisis” to the next. Seldom taking time for the PEOPLE in our lives. Think back to Mayberry where they sat on the porch and talked in the evenings. When was the last time we did that in 2016?

    • Post Author
      Phyllis Sather
      Posted January 15, 2016 at 1:42 PM

      I know what you mean. Our first planning weekend it seemed like such a luxury to just be able to sit and talk without rushing on to the next thing. I still love knowing that I will have his full attention for hours!

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