After writing The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the late great life management guru Stephen Covey also wrote a book entitled, First Things First. Covey was an expert at helping others put first things first, managing their time by dividing the activities of life into four quadrants:
- Quadrant I: Important and Urgent (Your house is on fire)
- Quadrant II: Important and Not Urgent (Praying, Reading Scripture, Exercise, Eating well)
- Quadrant III: Urgent and Not Important (Interruptions, some email, some phone calls)
- Quadrant IV: Not Urgent and Not Important (Television)
Not surprisingly, Covey urged people to give themselves to “Quadrant II living”, that is focusing most of life on activities that are extremely important, and yet, not urgent. For instance, when you wake up each day, you don’t need to exercise, and in a sense, you certainly don’t need to read the Word of God, but if you live day by day like that, you will be in great trouble. Quadrant II is a great model for living when you ponder it. Of course, we all have to do things that are in Quadrant I, important and urgent, but giving ourselves to items in quadrant II slowly reduces what is in Quadrant I, and limits what is in III and IV too.
So I was thinking about the ultimate item in Quadrant II, centering your life around the Cross of Christ. Paul mentioned the importance of this…
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures. 1 Corinthians 15:3 (ESV)
First importance – that’s what Paul said about the cross. And yet it’s not urgent. You will get by fine tomorrow if you don’t think much about the cross, but you will need to deal with that email from your boss or your newborn’s diaper. So many urgent and important things in life that you just might miss what is important and yet not urgent – the gospel.