Establishing Priorities

Try as we might, we can’t be good at everything.  We also can’t please everybody.  We all have the same 24 hours in a day to work with.  We must choose what we do with that time and determine how it should be spent.  If we have made goals we must also establish priorities that will help us reach those goals.  If a student wants to earn a good grade on a test, they must make it a priority to study for that test.  This means that studying becomes a priority over other things such as playing video games or hanging out with friends.  It doesn’t mean that a person can’t do those things, just that in order to reach their goal studying must be the first priority.  If a person chooses to hang out with their friends instead of studying it may be a reflection that their goals are unrealistic as the person can’t make it a priority to reach them.  Below are some criteria for establishing priorities to reach one’s goals.

How urgent is the goal?

The urgency of a goal helps to determine its priority. If some goals are to be met, they must be accomplished now, today, or at the most, this week. You cannot wait until next week to get ready to preach this Sunday’s sermon. You had better not wait too long to start rearing your children right. However, be careful in establishing priorities on the basis of urgency alone. One sage said, “Never do today what can be put off until tomorrow.” That is not what is usually said, but it may be better. That sage was saying something of the same thing as General Eisenhower when he said, “The urgent is seldom important, and the important is seldom urgent.” If a leader refuses to plan his work around his goals and priorities, he may spend most of his time doing urgent, but relatively unimportant, tasks.

How important is the goal?

There are four levels of importance. First – the very important things that must be done. Second – the important things that should be done. Third – the kind of things that may not be necessary, but may be useful. Fourth – the unimportant things that can be eliminated.

Can someone else do the task?

This question should be asked. Many things can be delegated to a subordinate, freeing the leader for more important tasks. The leader who desires to lead a large ministry will have to delegate a large part of his work to subordinates. Of course, there are some things that don’t have to be carried out by a particular leader, but some other person can do them.

How often must it be done?

Many things that must be repeated should be delegated to someone else, even if that someone must be trained to perform the task. This is not true of all things; for example, the pastor needs to preach, even though he does it several times each week. It is something to consider.

Is it part of the larger task to which I am committed?

Some tasks that may be done are simply not a part of the larger task of an individual, and probably should not be done. If a task does not contribute to the accomplishment of the lifetime objectives, it should be considered for elimination.

What will happen if it is not done at all?

This is the ultimate question. Is it really important enough to be done?

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