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The Value Of Accomplishing Much But Getting Nothing Done

Have you ever felt like you’ve gotten much done but little accomplished? This morning, I felt just the opposite: I accomplished much but got little done.

My day is usually set with a schedule of study, writing, and meetings. At the end of those days, if I’ve checked everything off my “To-Do List,” I can say that I’ve gotten much done. But have I gotten much accomplished? Accomplishment is more than the completion of tasks; it’s the fulfillment of purpose.

You can complete 100 tasks and still not accomplish anything, at least anything that satisfies the soul and connects to a greater purpose. This is not to say that tasks are unimportant. Tasks are like blocking in football. They may not score touchdowns, but they make those touchdowns possible.

So, this morning I had tasks to complete—finish a sermon, write this blog, put together a presentation, work on a wedding ceremony—and I got none of them done but much accomplished. I had a two-hour conversation with a young man concerning matters of faith, I met with a couple whose wedding I’ll be performing, and I had lunch with our associate minister. The sermon will get finished, the blog is on its way, the presentation and wedding ceremony are forthcoming, but sometimes tasks give way to the greater purpose of investing in people.

This is saying a lot for a task-oriented person such as myself, and, yes, balance is required. The completion of tasks should support the accomplishment of purpose, because tasks are not ends unto themselves.

When I helped lead a church plant a number of years ago, we had many tasks to get done, but they were all subservient to the goal of our purpose. If we completed tasks but didn’t fulfill our purpose, then we had the wrong tasks. Mission not accomplished.

Some of you may feel like you’re working hard but accomplishing little. If so, then you are either working on the wrong accomplishment or working on the wrong tasks. Make sure that what you hope to accomplish is worth accomplishing, and then complete those tasks that get you closer to your goal.

The key is to align our passions with the purposes of God. What makes you come alive? What gets your mind thinking and your heart beating? When you function in your passions, you get aligned with God’s purposes and you can accomplish much, even if some of your tasks are left undone. This is not an excuse for mediocrity but a call to rally around something worth fighting—and loving—for.

Howard Thurman once wrote, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive” (Eldredge, Wild At Heart, 202).

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

The “Obituary Test” Challenge

I recently had a conversation with a young father who has been trying to juggle his various responsibilities with work, family, and school. When I asked him how things were going on the home front, he looked down and said, “Not that great.” But then he lifted his head and smiled when he said, “But I’m really good at video games!”

Now, if that story were true (which it’s not), you would probably respond by saying, “That’s ridiculous! What good is it to be successful at video games but fail in your marriage?”

But we do this all the time. We succeed in some parts of our lives while we fail miserably in those areas that truly matter. A mechanic who can make a car purr but can’t build a healthy relationship with his son. An architect who can develop intricate plans for a new building but has no plan for building a healthy marriage. A pastor who can preach powerful messages but who hides from his own family at home.

Peter Drucker used to say that the worst kind of failure in business is to succeed in the things that don’t matter. Maybe the worst kind of failure in life is winning in the wrong things and losing where it really counts.

Only two things matter on the eternal scale: our relationship with Jesus Christ and our relationship with others. On the day of your death it won’t matter how much money you have in the bank, how many college degrees hang on your wall, how many seasons of Gilmore Girls you’ve made it through, or what level you’re on in Minecraft.

And, yet, where do you spend most of your time—building relationships, or building a fortress in a video game? Where do I spend most of my time—growing with Christ and others, or growing my own kingdom?

In Luke 12, Jesus tells a story about a rich man who measured success by the size of his estate and the production of his business. By those standards he was a rock star planning to retire and live a life of ease (Luke 12:19). But by the standard that truly mattered, he failed miserably, for he died a premature death with no thought toward eternity. Jesus concluded his story by saying, “So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21).

I challenge you to take the “obituary test” after you finish reading this. If you were to die today, what would people write in your obituary? And if it doesn’t include the two most important matters on the eternal scale—your relationship with Jesus and your relationships with others—then give thanks to God that you still have time to change. And then go and . . . change.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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