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).