Set Your Heart on What’s Important over What’s Urgent

This powerful video from Dad Tired reminds us to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33):

How easy it is to succumb to what Charles Hummel called the “tyranny of the urgent.” It may appear urgent to take a phone call or finish a work project when it’s bedtime for my kids. But while I could talk to that person later or finish work later, my opportunity to read to my child and play with them tonight is a window that will soon close, and once closed, is forever gone. (I may or may not have more nights, but I will never again have this night.) Missed opportunities begin as exceptions, then become a habit, and the next thing we know, our children are gone and we wonder what we could have built into their lives if only we’d realized how important and fleeting our time with them was.

Parent or not, everyone’s day is filled with the urgent—work, appointments, repairs, phone calls, shopping, news feeds. But even if we don’t invest in time with the Lord or read to our children or call our parents or mentor a young person, the minutes and hours still pass. These opportunities are not emergencies. In neglecting them we don’t neglect the urgent. We neglect something vitally, eternally important.

My advice to parents is this: don’t let the time slip by. Don’t leave full of regrets. At the end of their lives, nobody says they wish they’d spent more time at the office or watching TV or looking at their phone. But often they say they wish they’d been there for their kids. There is no substitute for time spent with your children and grandchildren, and no substitute for your undivided attention. And there is no substitute for seeking God’s wisdom to discern the difference between urgent and important matters.

Set your heart not merely on what’s seen, but what matters for eternity. Consider 2 Corinthians 4:18 and the example of Abraham and Moses in Hebrews 11. Invest in what will last, and center your life around God, His Place, His Word, His people, and those eternal souls who desperately long for His person and His place. Do this, and your days here will make a profound difference for eternity.

At the end of our lives, when we look back, most of what seemed urgent will be long forgotten. What we will thank God for—or regret—is how we handled what was truly important.

For more on seeking what's eternal, see Randy's devotional Seeing the Unseen

Photo by Josh Willink

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries