NOT-TO-DO LIST

What’s that about? I know about to-do lists. They keep me on track. My son said that leaders need a “not to-do list” to stay on target.

1 I DON’T CHECK EMAILS SIX TIMES A DAY. Not anymore. Too distracting. Divided my energy. I now check it once in the morning and once before dinner. I control my emails rather than letting them control me.

2 I DON’T LET MINISTRY MESS WITH MY DATE LIFE. I promised “to love and to cherish.” One way is to get her out of a busy household where we can eat alone face to face, eye to eye and enjoy the evening together. Calls don’t get answered. Leave a message.

3 I DON’T READ MAIL TWICE. Exceptions: a letter that requires a thoughtful response or one that needs to be shared for input.

4 I DON’T STALL ON IMPORTANT DECISIONS. Procrastination, a gift for low-level decisions, is a killer when you need to move with momentum. “If the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who will be called to battle?” Don’t stutter, General.

3 I DON’T LET MINISTRY SUPERSEDE FAMILY PLANS. I did as a young man. No excuse, but I didn’t know better. Now we have lots of time with the extended family, including highly impacting retreats with the whole gang. When you think family, think generations.

4 I DON’T LET A BUSY SCHEDULE TAKE AWAY EXERCISE. Used to. Didn’t like the recovery time to get back in the groove. I feel God’s presence when I work out–in my study. Short-term pain–long-term _________. At 72 I feel like I am two-thirds there. Hope to finish strong.

5 I DON’T SAY YES WHEN NO WORKS BETTER. A majority of no’s enable me to accomplish a few legitimate yeses. If I can’t work harder, I can work smarter. I don’t stay at meetings not going anywhere. I look for the door. I’ll meet once with someone and see where he is going. Then I delegate it to a more capable friend. I used to feel indispensable. Yeah, right!

6 I DON’T REACT. I favor acting to reacting. Many people spend time reacting. Takes time and energy. It’s a negative game plan. I am here by divine appointment. I do not want to be sidelined by the distraction of reaction. Reactionary people have anger issues. They are not living; they are being lived.

8 I DON’T ANSWER “UNKNOWN” CALLS. Leave a message and I’ll decide. Wasted too much time helping people who “desperately” needed my time–and took it, who asked for fifteen minutes and only took two hours.

9 I DON’T OVERWORK. Well, not usually. Even God took the weekend off after six days of creation. Change of pace refreshes and resets. A recent three-month sabbatical made me ready for the next seven-year stint. Looking to another sabbatical at 79.

11 I DON’T WATCH MUCH TV. Karen and I sometimes see a movie on our date night. Love sports. Enjoy the Vikings highlights if they win. What did you do with your life? I watched 11,256 hours of TV. Way to rack up the minutes. (Normal length).

12 I DON’T PROCRASTINATE, especially on the hard assignments. Used to, but it took energy to put things off. Usually start my taxes on New Year’s Day. Not my favorite thing, but don’t like it looming over my shoulders. If I am tempted to put something off because I don’t like it, I try to do it sooner. Sometimes I succeed.

13 I DON’T RETIRE. Dr. Art Vincent, now slowing down with health issues in his 90’s, kept impacting nations as a 90-year old. He couldn’t think of a good reason to retire. Pastor Don Richman has me by ten years and travels to Eastern Europe to oversee a strategic ministry. Two of my heroes.

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