You cannot do everything you want to do.
I forget this fact more than I would like to admit. I mistakenly think I can do everything I want—but I can’t. I have limited resources: time, energy, money, intellect and talent.
Proverbs tells us that the eyes of a man are never satisfied. In my life, I have proven that proverb more times than I care to admit. I always want more. Even in ministry, there is always more I want to do: one more person to meet, one more hour to prepare a sermon, one more speaking engagement or one more evangelistic conversation.
However, despite the insatiable nature of our wants, you can do every good work God has for you.
Ephesians 2:10 succinctly explains the Christian life: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
It seems to me from this passage that there are good works for you that God has prepared for you to walk in. God also knows every limitation that encumbers you. This means that today you have at your disposal all the resources to do what God would have you to do.
So how do we get after prioritizing endless “to do” list for today?
1. Prayerfully seek what can wait until after this week.
For many of you, this will sound like an odd first step. But it is very important. I keep my “to do” list on a spreadsheet, and it currently has 43 items. If I wake up and look at that list every day, I become overwhelmed and feel hopeless.
The best thing I can do toward accomplishing what God has for me this week is to determine what he does not have for me this week. I keep them on my list so I do not forget, but I can rest knowing that I have prayerfully decided to do most of these items later.
2. Prayerfully seek what is to be done this week.
I am currently working through this process with my list as I write. When I completed Step 1, I was able to put all but 17 items into the “not this week” category. You will want to then go back through this list prayerfully.
“Lord, is this what you have for me this week?” Work through each item and determine if this is truly something for this week. Is this a good work that God has prepared for you to walk in?
In the second pass through my now-shorter list, I was able to go from 17 items down to 15 for this week. How’s it going with you?
3. Prayerfully seek what is to be done today.
Out of these 15 things that need to be done this week, I next prayerfully ask the Lord what he has for me today. On my list, there are five things for today. I believe these to be things God has for me to do today and has provided the resources for me to do them.
4. Prayerfully seek what is to be done first.
I pray that your list for today is now relatively manageable. With this much smaller list than you started with, it is now time to prioritize this list. Sometimes it will be from most important to least important. Sometimes the thing that needs to be completed by 9 a.m. will be listed before something that can wait until 2 p.m. You also will learn yourself. Maybe you write better in the morning and meet with people better in the afternoon—or vice versa. Either way, prioritize your list and get to work.
5. Look to Jesus.
Two things are true about Jesus that we must always keep in mind as we endeavor to prioritize the work before us.
1. Jesus accomplished his mission. Jesus came to this earth for a very specific mission—to save his people through living a perfect life, dying a sacrificial death, resurrecting, and ascending to the right hand of God the Father.
2. Jesus allowed himself to be distracted a lot. Almost every miracle Jesus performed, he was on the way to do something else. Distractions were a part of the perfect life.
If you are a Christian, God has good works for you to walk in. He will have what appear to be distractions along our way. Like Jesus, we must welcome “distractions” graciously and continue on with our mission.
Brian O’Day is a former marine who served for nearly 10 years as an active duty Marine and deployed to 15 countries, including Iraq and Afghanistan. He planted Pillar Church Jacksonville in Jacksonville, North Carolina, with his wife Kelli in 2013. This article originally appeared on NAMB.net.