Priority Filter and Consequences

It’s been 28 weeks since I’ve published a blog. Am I a slacker? Just busy? Am I working in the tyranny of the urgent? Allowing others to transpose their priorities on me? Or is this where my prioritization process lead me?

What project have you deprioritized lately? And for what reason?

What’s the “unfinished blog” on the corner of your desk? What’s the email lurking at the bottom of your inbox that requires some attention?

Daily if not hourly we’re intentionally and sometimes unintentionally making priority decisions related to work projects. So, in an effort to provide “practical takeaways for everyday church leadership” I thought I’d provide some of the filters I (try to) use. Look, things will get set aside. Their prioritization will decrease, but it’s important that there’s some intentionality to this.

4 Priority Filter Questions

  1. Related to my work, is this a must do? Litmus test: I don’t do this work, I lose my job. Or things break. Or at a minimum I keep people from doing their jobs. If these could be true, the work is a “must do” and should remain a high priority.
  2. Am I called or convicted by God to do this? You could respond “no” to question one, and yet “yes” to question two which makes it a must do. For those who follow Jesus, and for those whose work involves church leadership, your priorities may not make sense outside of a spiritual realm, yet, if we’re called to do something or convicted, then it should be our highest priority.
  3. What’s the collateral damage if this is delayed? You may determine from question one it’s not a “must do,” that things aren’t going to break because it’s not done. Yet, a thoughtful effort of considering what will happen if it’s delayed. There’s likely some consequence, but how big is what takes measuring. As a leader one of our jobs is to make value judgments. In leadership, your priorities create or bog down others priorities pathways. Probably once a week I will ask someone I work with, “if X doesn’t happen, what’s the collateral damage to you or your team?”
  4. Is this really still important to me? My wiring is such that I like to finish things. If I set a goal, I really want to complete it. Yet things change. And what was important to me six months ago when I was planning my work goals may no longer be important (to me or my church). You’ve got to give yourself freedom to abandon goals when in light of current circumstances they no longer merit your highest attention. What’s one thing you’re plodding away on that really made sense even two months ago, but now you should really just “cut bait” and move to the next priority?

Consequences of Unintentional Prioritization

  • You’ll work really hard, but not move the needle – you’ll fill up your work with non-strategic work.
  • You’ll be the poster child for being the “tyranny of the urgent guy/gal.” You’ll move from project to project and only do what you “feel” up to (or even worse, what someone else feels for you).
  • You’ll do others’ bidding but not what you’re uniquely equipped to do (or even compensated to do).

Whether you wrestle down your projects, let them slide, and jettison them, be thoughtful about how you make those decisions

p.s. for those who care…Regarding my blogging and its prioritization…weekly blogging didn’t remain a priority when I reviewed questions 1-3 above. I knew ministry work at Brentwood Baptist was not going to be halted because I stopped writing. I didn’t feel like I was ignoring a calling or conviction from God. And no one’s work lives were messed up because they don’t get a weekly Dodridge download. But question four, yes, it was important to me. It just wasn’t as important as other things at the time. But now, I’m raising its priority again, and I hope from time to time, reading the blog lands somewhere on your weekly priority list.

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