Working on a Tight Schedule

A task may demand for your time but a discerning person knows that not every task has to be accommodated.

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Last year, with the overwhelming amount of tasks and projects that almost blew me away, I could not believe I was able to make it out completely sane to continue another year. Haha! I had to work with people in facilitating camps, conferences and other programs. I had to make reports and attend to a lot of meetings within and outside of my usual work. If not for the grace and sustenance of the Lord, I am not sure how things will work out for me. But God is good! He strengthens me and continues to do so!

Working on a Tight Schedule

Come 2018, and TADAA! Tasks seem to double and expectations turned gargantuan. If you are like me who finds it more difficult to say NO to people than the actual task itself, this is nothing but normal. Also, if you are like me who never backs out of challenges, this just fuels creativity, passion, and foresight within. But honestly, some challenges really take the best of me.

Speaking of foresight, one thing that concerns me for the rest of the year is how will I manage my limited time when commitments REALLY overlap. Before, whichever is written first on my calendar has the priority over my schedule. If a ministry meeting is announced on a certain day but I already have a prior commitment with my college friends for a catch-up session, I will choose the latter and excuse myself for the ministry meeting. This is because I value commitments. However, I think this should not always be the case. A task may demand for your time but a discerning person knows that not every task has to be accommodated. With this in mind, I drafted a simple scheme to help me decide which task or project takes priority.

DISCLAIMER: After seeing my decision-making guide, you may think that I am too fickle-minded and incompetent to decide for myself. Please don’t judge me. I just want to put my life in order. Haha!

FIRST: Identify your commitments and group them accordingly.

Since my day usually revolves around spreadsheets, I jot down my commitments and tasks using color coded-schematic.

Sched 1

I wrote these tasks and commitments in random. Other things are sure to be added as I remember them. But take note that I grouped my major activities into four areas: Ministry, Work, Relationships and Outlets. Since I am working in a church organization, sometimes Work and Ministry overlap, which is both a pro- and a con- because they often have shared schedule. Nevertheless, I have to define which is which.

* Outlets are activities that help me de-stress when toxicity level escalates.

SECOND: Decide which of your major commitments takes priority over the other.

Inasmuch as I would like to have it as: Relationships – Ministry – Work – Outlets, this is not always the case. Often, Work comes first because it is my primary source of income and usually demands most of my time, followed by Ministry. Relationships come third because they are the most capable of understanding your schedule. Outlets come last because obviously, rest and relaxation comes after all the work has been exhausted, not during and definitely not prior.

Sched 2

* No, I am not trying to rank which is more important and significant than the other, I’m just trying to assess my commitments based on practicality of scheduling. You may have a different view regarding this.

THIRD: Group your specific tasks into HIGH, MEDIUM and LOW

HIGH – meaning this really has to be prioritized because not doing so will compromise your schedule.

MEDIUM – this can be postponed to a later time but must be given attention to afterwards, otherwise will compromise your schedule.

LOW – you can excuse yourself out of these without any drastic effect on your schedule, but can be attended to when the luxury of time permits.

Priority

 * I intentionally left some tasks covered so I won’t offend some people because they just ranked medium or low on my priorities. I devised this to help me in decision making, and to spare myself from entangled commitments.

With this scheme, it will be much easier for me to decide which tasks must be attended to first because I have already decided their order of priority. Also, this is a reminder that things has to be done promptly so commitments will not stack, hence a disaster schedule.

Anyway, ang dami kong time at di halatang busy. Hahaha!

If you think this might help you, you may download one through this link: Commitments Diagram. ‘Til next post!

Stop and Stoop Down

What makes us less of a human? Sometimes it is not our lack of compassion. Most of the time, it is our preoccupation with too many things.

The story of the Good Samaritan is one of the most common stories being told in a Sunday school class. The message is simple: there was a Jew who was robbed and beaten by bandits, left half-dead beside the road. Then came a priest, followed by a Levite (or a church worker) who both saw the man yet chose to pass him by. Until a man, a despised Samaritan, took notice of the body lying on the road, tended the wounds and took care of his needs – and much more! #HopeInHumanityRestored

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Obviously, the one to be commended is the one who stopped and stooped down to help. What he did was heartwarming and brings butterflies to the stomach. It is indeed an awesome story to share.

Digging deeper to the background of the story, we’ll find out that the Samaritans and the Jews are not in good terms. The rift between them is so immense that it is uncommon for Jews and Samaritans even to associate with each other. That’s why the disciples were so surprised to see Jesus talking to a Samaritan woman at the well. Thus, Jesus’ parable about the Good Samaritan isn’t a cool, mushy story the first time it was told – it is both counter-cultural and unheard of.

Fortunately, our family, nor any family I know, was never involved in rido, or clan/family wars. But this is a reality with our brethren in southern Philippines. Tribal wars still exist in many parts of the globe. No matter how we brag about building bridges through technology and globalization, we can never deny the fact that cultural walls are still on the rise and it comes multi-faceted – racism, sexism, religious indifference…

“How often we pray for God to use us for His purpose – and then when He interrupts our lives to answer our prayer, we list all our inadequacies”

To stop and stoop down is easier said than done, especially when you, or someone you love, are being despised, when you’re being harassed, being taken advantage. But is it impossible? I don’t think so.

Inasmuch as I would like to relate myself to the Good Samaritan, I believe I am more of the first two took notice, but chose to pass by instead.

Surely, the priest and the Levite are both good persons. They are both committed to their calling, both devout and above reproach. Just like most of us. We are responsible employees, responsible parents or sons and daughters. Generally we are good people. We took pity for those who are victimized by wars, famine and uncanny sicknesses. We feel sorry for those who live in unimaginable poverty. We shed tears for people whose situations move our hearts to the core. In the first place, we are humans beings, created in the image and likeness of God. We are no rock nor piece of metal.

They both saw the half-dead person lying on the road. I believe they both felt pity towards the person. But maybe, and this I am not sure, maybe they are caught up with their own schedules. They have more important things to do than to stop and stoop down to help a total stranger, much more someone who belongs to the opposing party. They have ministries to attend to! They have meetings to facilitate, sermons to prepare, members to counsel, small groups to lead. They are busy. They already have too much on their plates and they cannot afford to add more burden to themselves. Maybe this is why I relate to them more.

I love how Christine Caine, the founder of A21 Campaign, a non-profit organization who strives to end human trafficking, puts it: “How often we pray for God to use us for His purpose – and then when He interrupts our lives to answer our prayer, we list all our inadequacies”

It is my desire to be used by God mightily to make a difference in the lives of others. I always yearn to be an instrument of change and an inspiration to many. I want to do great exploits for the Lord. This is what it means to be a “servant of God” – to be an extension of Jesus’ hands and feet and eyes and ears. Yet from time to time, as He leads me into situations to “suit up my Christian armor”, I end up pursuing the more comfortable, easier path, to the point that I cross to the other side of the road as if I didn’t notice the helpless around me.

What makes us less of a human? Sometimes it is not our lack of compassion. Most of the time, it is our preoccupation with too many things.

How many people scream for our attention yet we chose to disregard them because we have other things of “greater importance”? How many people asked for help, asked for a listening ear, but all we offer is our divided attention – or no attention at all. Instead of kneeling beside the person like what the Samaritan did, we distance ourselves. We are caught up with our own “busyness” that we can no longer afford to stop, much more stoop down.

What makes us less of a human? Sometimes it is not our lack of compassion. Most of the time, it is our preoccupation with too many things. This is my personal prayer: that the next time I see someone in need, I will be courageous and compassionate enough to stop whatever I am doing and stoop down, offering help even if it costs me my inconvenience. Lord, make me like You.

In Pursuit of God

He is a God that can enter the realm of our experiences – not just a God we can fathom with our intellect.

There is a world of difference between knowing about God and knowing God. We may know Him – His works in the past, in the present and what He will do in the future. We may know a lot of things about Him – His awesome qualities and stories about Him. We may know Him by name, but unfortunately we may not know who He really is.

The sermon today really hit the mark. I can no longer justify myself. I was rebuked to the core, challenged to take honest assessment of myself and moved to take my knowledge of God to the next level. He is more than what my mind can conceive, much more than what every good book can describe of Him, even more than doctrines can ever produce depicting Him. He is God – the only real God with whom no substitute can ever compare.In Pursuit of God.jpg

What makes this God so special is that He is a personal God. He is not a distant God who just looks towards us – His creation, and leaves us wondering what to do with life. Instead, He has given us His lavish grace and blessings for us to appreciate that He wants the best for us. Who would have thought that an omnipotent God who alone can create the universe with just a word from His mouth will care about us – creatures who are even incapable of reciprocating the kind of love He gives us. If there is one word I can describe God’s love towards us, I’d like to say that it’s a stubborn kind of love. And I am forever grateful to that.

It’s one thing to enjoy Him – His love, His grace, His forgiveness – all His many benefits; it’s another thing to really pursue Him. Now a convicting thought lingers on my mind: how am I really pursuing Him? Or am I, really?

Is it enough that I know about His love? Is it enough that I appreciate His wondrous works that benefits the helpless soul that I am? Is it enough that I just savor the beauty of His grace, enjoying the lavishness of His love incomprehensible? Pwede, pero depende.

It’s one thing to enjoy Him – His love, His grace, His forgiveness – all His many benefits; it’s another thing to really pursue Him. Now a convicting thought lingers on my mind: how am I really pursuing Him? Or am I, really?  The mere thought makes me think how unfair I [we] really am [are] when it comes to relating to Him.

Being busy for the kingdom is not a thing to be confused with being intimate with the King. We can do all the crazy stuff out there to at least say we’re busy pursuing Him, but in the end, our soul’s connection to the Father determines the futility of our actions. In Him, there is fullness of joy, there is peace beyond understanding and love beyond any condition. No amount of activity can fake out what only God can produce in and through us.

Amidst all the ministerial busyness, is He really the One being sought after? Or are we just downsizing Him to an activity we can jot down on our planners? He is more than that. As Psalm 34:8 says, His goodness can both be tasted and seen.

He is a God that can enter the realm of our experiences – not just a God we can fathom with our intellect.