I tried something new last week. I made a wonderfully organized list (it was color-coded) of five general tasks I wanted to accomplish before the end of the week. They were mostly on-going tasks that had to be completed each day, like “time with God”, “clean areas visitors see” and “clean areas visitors don’t see,” and were ranked in order of importance. I also included two very specific tasks that needed to be accomplished, one that fell into the category of our home and the other that came under the heading of ministry. OK, so seven tasks: five daily and two specific to the week, all in vibrant red, blue, and black dry-erase marker, posted on the front of the freezer door. A work of art to be beheld by all (who would presumably keep me accountable).
When we left to go out of town Friday afternoon, leaving stacks of freshly dried, but unfolded clothes all across the sofa and love seat in a certain “area that visitors see” (I know I’m not the only one who does that), I glanced sadly at my list. I had accomplished a whopping two tasks on a regular basis. Seriously, two. How could that be? That’s almost as bad as accomplishing nothing at all, and it’s kind of a waste of dry-erase marker. It’s true that I had only compiled and posted the list on Thursday, but I had also given myself a leg up by putting one task on the list that had already been completed!
I had largely forgotten about the list by Tuesday night (there’s nothing like a romantic work-related road trip to Paducah to make a girl forget her problems). A friend invited me to a program on campus in which a panel of ministry couples answered questions from the audience. Afterward, I talked with one of the wives (the one who held a six-week old in her arms throughout the evening and had four other children who were apparently being well-behaved elsewhere), and asked her some in-depth questions about how she manages to balance her role as wife, mother, and still find time to serve in her ministry context. She asked me if I was “task-driven” and by the face I made she figured out that I am typically one of those type-A, task-driven people who drives my husband crazy. She then proceeded to remind me that Jesus’ ministry was more people-driven than task-driven (in that he cared about people over most tasks, allowed himself to be frequently interrupted, etc.), and that I needed to leave room to not accomplish everything on my list. Not what a perfectionist wants to hear.
So here I am. Making lists that I know will be left incomplete. Creating an outline of a plan, but knowing that I should have no intention of actually following it to the letter. It’s unlikely that my seven-point list will ever have each line crossed off and that I’ll get to feel the pleasure of doing so. I’m going to have to be OK with that. I know that I need some type of structure to my week, but that I must be more flexible when God works and redirects my focus.
I’m nowhere near having that mindset yet, but at least I’m seeing the wisdom in using dry-erase markers.