I live in what are sometimes called the "crunch" years. The years when my children are small and demand a lot of attention. The years when my children are involved in many activities that they cannot manage themselves (they need rides and oversight at those activities). The years when my career is in its maximum height of learning and doing. I work a job that is insanely demanding when it comes to activity. I could be in 3 places at once at any given time of day and still not be in all the places I ought to be or go to all the things I ought to go to. My work and family are not only active, they are also emotionally and mentally demanding. These are not years that my children can afford to have me physically present but emotionally absent. The same is true for my energy at work.
I have spent years working on saying "no", an important skill for anyone in our overly scheduled time, but even more so for a pastor and for someone living in the crunch years. I have spent years whittling down my schedule, prioritizing who and when I can meet with people and attend things. I have spent more energy on my "not to do" list than on my "to do" list. All of that has been important and needed. Learning to manage my outer life so that it does not cause my inner world to collapse is hugely important. But it is not as important as I thought.
What is far more important is the need to manage my inner world. That is, to find stillness and rest within. To quiet my soul. My heart and my mind are easily cluttered, noisy, busy, hurried, stressed. I must find rest for my soul before I exercise it. I must enter into activity from inner stillness. I must learn rhythm. I must learn to be quiet before speaking out.
Maybe I am beginning to grasp what Martin Luther said, "I have so much to do (today) that I should spend the first three hours in prayer."
Managing our schedules and keeping them sane is still important. Just not as important as 'taking heed to our souls.' (Deut. 4:9)