Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Despite what the post may say, it's 1:27 am as I sit down to pull together a few thoughts before heading to bed, and I find myself reflecting on priorities.

Why can't I seem to set them and keep them? That is my question.

I want to be able to compose a blog post every day, as a discipline and also as something I enjoy doing. I want to be able to read and offer comments on others' blogs more regularly than I do. And most importantly, I want to take time to read more than I generally do. I have a stack of books calling out to me all the time. I keep a running list of books that I want to read. I have to confess, though, that I am not consistent about building into my schedule the necessary time to read. Sure, I go in spells where I'm reading regularly, and I always find it meaningful and uplifting and enjoyable, but then several weeks have passed and I'll realize that I've only managed to keep up with the periodicals, like Newsweek, Christian Century, Sojourners, and The Progressive Christian, and the bookmark in the book I'm reading hasn't moved.

It's definitely not because I'm sitting around watching television. Too often, my days are packed -- it seems like I run from one thing to the next, taking time in between only to eat, change a diaper, and respond to e-mail. Depending on the day, I may have some assigned time for giving Rachel my full attention, but too often, she gets shuffled along with Sara and me as we go about the tasks of ministry.

So... a question for friends and ministry colleagues who have developed a workable schedule... How do you do it? Where do you build in time to read? What does a typical (or ideal) day look like? How do you pace yourself to accomplish all the things on your task list while also being faithful in setting priorities for family, reading, exercise, and oh yes, adequate sleep?

Speaking of which... time to head in that direction. Tuesday Morning Prayer begins at 8 am, and that's going to come too early!


MumPastor said...

Allen, I was up two hours after you went to bed, thinking about the same things - I never have time to read, I want to spend more time with my girls, I want to spend more time doing ministry, why can't I be more efficient...I'm sorry I have no answers for you, but if you find any, let me know. Until then, I just keep muddling through - and occasionally waking up in the middle of the night feeling guilty about not being with my children enough...I'm glad you get to bring Rachel along with you, that is great time she won't ever forget, and you will treasure. Linnea went to seminary with me, Glennis did an internship with me, Estelle does some ministry with me, but it is never enough.

scituatedrev said...

Good questions Allen. Though I'm apparently too old to be up as late as you and mumpastor seem to stay up. Yikes!

As I started to think this through, a phrase popped into my mind: the tyranny of the urgent. I actually had to google the phrase to see if I had it right. Turns out it's the title of a book that was first published in 1967 and is specifically written to the Christian context. The idea of course is that we so often are responding to "urgent" needs around us that all of our time is consumed, leaving little or no time for the things that are really important.

I haven't read the book but I would imagine letting go of the urgent and focusing on the important requires some soul searching and serious self-discipline.

For me, I have to put those times in my routine, in my planner. RIght now, I'm up at 6 to go to the gym, then at the "office" by 8. I do my devotion and any "scholarly" reading I want to do first, then on to other things. Not having little ones does free up a lot of time - and remembering when they were little, I was reluctant to trade that time for anything else. All too soon Rachel will be in school and your day will open up in different ways.

For now - just let some of that other sh*% go!

Allen Ewing-Merrill said...

Thanks, Rick and mumpastor! I'm glad to know that others struggle with the same kinds of things.

Rick, I definitely know what you mean by "the tyranny of the urgent." I face it a lot less in this current ministry context, but yes, it's very real. I respect you deeply for your self-discipline, and I like the idea of being intentional about reading first rather than waiting for "free time" later... Peace!