Slowing Down to Get More Done

Cranking up the muse....

Sometimes when there’s extra work to be done I end up starting out by doing even less. I know it sounds absurd, and completely impractical, but running headlong into a pile of deadlines is probably that last thing I need to do if I want to effectively clear my desk.

I absolutely have to begin with a renewed spirit and a restored mind – or I’m like a guy thrashing desperately in the deep end of a swimming pool… not because he can’t swim but because he simply can’t concentrate enough to remember how.

So, rather than work like crazy and accomplish great things by lunch time I tend to lay back, spend some extra time in my morning devotions, crank out a blog, brew a fresh pot of coffee, maybe putt a few golf balls around the living room, and then get going when I’m ready.

THE PILE: If you’re interested in what’s stacked up on my desk at the moment, here’s the extra stuff that’s “over and above” – and by extra I mean in addition to the routine responsibilities and my regular columns –

  • I have to deal with a pile of detail paperwork to go with my new book contract (it really needs to be completed this week)
  • I need to actually write the new book (140-160 pages, deadline August 15)
  • Meanwhile my other new book (“Reaching Toward Easter: devotions for Lent”, to be released later this fall), is in the middle of fine-detail copy-editing. The manuscript is sitting on the dining room table waiting for me to get busy (also this week)
  • The 50th anniversary First Presbyterian Church History project continues to taunt me
So what to do? Typically, my approach is to begin with a deliberate awareness of the presence of God. Then I read scripture, with an open heart and willing mind. This morning, simply enough, I have already found profound inspiration by reading The Upper Room passage for the day. It came from the prophet Isaiah (61:1-3), and the words are awesome. Here, let me paste it in for you:

The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me.

He sent me to preach good news to the poor,

   heal the heartbroken,

Announce freedom to all captives,

   pardon all prisoners.

God sent me to announce the year of his grace—

   a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies—

   and to comfort all who mourn,

To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,

   give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,

Messages of joy instead of news of doom,

   a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.

Rename them “Oaks of Righteousness”

   planted by God to display his glory.

They’ll rebuild the old ruins,

   raise a new city out of the wreckage.

They’ll start over on the ruined cities,

   take the rubble left behind and make it new.

WOW! What an inspirational passage! I want to be an “Oak of Righteousness, planted to display God’s glory”… I want to share “messages of joy” instead of “news of doom”… I want to have “a praising heart” instead of “a languid spirit”… And I really do believe God has charged me with the responsibility of “Announcing the Year of God’s Grace.”

Guess I’d better get busy!



  1. Maybe that is my key to get ALL the things done that are just waiting for me in NY. I’ve been frozen and scared to begin. Your blog just gave me renewed outlook and strength. Very grateful. clara


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