When Your To-Do List Makes You Hyperventilate
"Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ." Colossians 3:23-24 (HCSB)
I grabbed my mango-mint iced tea, a spiral notepad and pen and headed to my backyard deck.
Settling myself into a lounge chair, I began to tackle the chore that was before me: writing out my to-do list for the week. Although my notepad was whimsical and my pen was laden with bright purple ink, these organizational objects couldn’t cancel the dread I felt about having to think it through, write it down and then execute the many tasks before me.
My life as a wife, mom, worker, daughter, neighbor, church member and friend brings me much delight. I get to watch my son play football, help my adult daughter look for her first house and work on projects with others that I love and believe in.
However, my life also brings me lots of "to-dos": Purchases to make. Closets to organize. Paperwork to complete. Phone calls to return. Research to be done. Pots and pans to scrub. Kids to shuttle. Parents to check on. And on and on it goes.
Sometimes — when I get my list all scrawled out on paper — instead of feeling energized with a game plan, my emotions go into panic mode. I’m almost afraid to look at the list since it seems monumental. While most of the tasks in and of themselves aren’t too difficult or time-consuming, when viewed as a whole, they seem like a massive mountain I’ll never be able to scale.
And then, on top of the panic, I also start to pout. My mind starts looping the "poor me" soundtrack that results from just looking at my list.
Poor me … I have to mop the floors.
Poor me … I have paperwork to finish.
Poor me … I have to drive and get groceries.
Poor me … I have to run my son to practice.
Poor me … I have to work on the computer for a few hours to finish this project.
Poor, poor, pitiful me!
Today’s key passage addresses this "poor me" mentality by giving us a fresh perspective as we go about our work: "Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men …"
Three words jump up at me as I stop and ponder this verse:
Whatever I do. Not just the tasks I enjoy, or the work that brings me recognition or the duties that I find also fun, but WHATEVER I do is to be done …
Enthusiastically is defined as "done lively and with great interest; wholeheartedly, sincerely, energetically and earnestly." Hmmm … I’m not so sure that describes my attitude as I tackle the "whatevers" on my to-do list. How about you?
It is the Lord himself we are serving as we enthusiastically check off our "whatevers." Not a husband. Or kids. Not a boss or the committee chairperson. We are serving Jesus Christ Himself as we work.
How about we hit the re-start button when it comes to taking our lists from "to-do" to "It’s done!"? Let’s not panic. Or pout. Rather, let’s loop thoughts through our minds Colossians 3:23 style.
In other words:
I don’t have to clean my house. I get to clean my house — because I have a place to call my own, while many are homeless or displaced. And I am serving the Lord Jesus as I clean.
I don’t have to fill out this team permission slip. I get to fill it out — because my child is healthy enough for physical activity and has caring, volunteer coaches who give of their time. And I am serving the Lord Jesus as I write.
I don’t have to drive and get groceries. I get to do this errand — because we have enough money to purchase provisions and we own a car, so I don’t have to walk. And I am serving the Lord Jesus as I shop.
We don’t have to. We get to. And thanks be to God that we do.
Father, thank You for all the to-dos on my list. Help me always remember that I am working for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
2 Chronicles 15:7, "But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded." (NIV)
If you’d like more encouragement in the area of tackling your work with enthusiasm, check out Glynnis Whitwer’s newest book and our next Online Bible Study, Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Everyday.
Today Karen is giving away two copies of Taming the To-Do List, along with some whimsical notepads and one of her favorite pens. Visit Karen’s blog for details.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What’s one item on your to-do list that you can reframe into an "I get to" perspective rather than an "I have to" mentality? Write a sentence prayer thanking God for this task. Then, go do it with gusto!