Monday, May 06, 2019

Saying No to the Tyranny of the Urgent

(The Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan)

A friend of mine who is a pastor called me. He was worried, because the conference speaker for the weekend at his church was sick. He needed a replacement. He told me the story, and asked,

"John, will you fill in as our conference speaker this weekend?"

I replied, "No, I cannot."

"Why not?"

It was inappropriate for him to ask this. I did not need to tell him why I said no. But I chose to, and answered,

"Linda and I have planned to do something together."

My friend got angry. He did not think I gave a good enough reason. We ended the call abruptly.

Ten minutes later he called back, saying,

"I am sorry. Would you forgive me? Your marriage is more important than our conference."


God did not call me to take on his urgency. God did not tell me to sacrifice even a little bit of my marriage for his dilemma.

We are not to be ruled by the urgency of others.

This made me think of a book published by Intervarsity Press that I read in the 1970s, called "The Tyranny of the Urgent." It says,

"You may find it necessary to resist the temptation to accept an engagement when the invitation first comes over the telephone. No matter how clear the calendar may look at the moment, ask for a day or two to pray for guidance before committing yourself. Surprisingly the engagement often appears less imperative after the pleading voice has become silent. If you can withstand the urgency of the initial moment, you will be in a better position to weigh the cost and discern whether the task is God's will for you."

When urgency is the predominant operative mood in ministry there are systemic leadership problems. Which can, and need to, be resolved.

This little book stayed with me. You can read the entire thing online here

The revised Kindle edition is only $1.99. 


Leading the Presence-Driven Church

This week I am wrapping up Encounters with the Holy Spirit (a book I am editing with Janice Trigg)

Then, I''lI give my attention to Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart

Followed by... Technology and Spiritual Formation

Then Linda and I will co-write our book on Relationships.