Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21
I like lists. I have been known to rewrite my list in a different order and pat myself on the back for making process. I know – a bit of denial going on. Sometimes, in the mornings, I’ll jot down a list of things to do only to realize it’s the same list I put together the night before. Wasted time, but for some reason it made me feel productive. Go figure. I’m also the one who likes to write something on my list just so I can mark it off.
I know I’m not fooling anyone except maybe myself, but lists do serve a purpose. I might forget half the things I need to do if I didn’t write them down. And since I’m a visual person, seeing the list in front of me helps me prioritize what I need to do.
Besides, at the end of the day, I can prove to anyone who has doubts (myself included), that I have indeed been productive despite the piles of things not done.
However, lists have a way of causing trouble when allowed to rule you instead of you ruling them. Here are 6 reasons I found to be wary of The List.
Lists can give a false sense of control. Life felt out of control, but getting all those things on the list done was something I could control. If I wrote it down, I felt like I could get it done. Eventually. And if I could get everything done, my life wouldn’t fall apart.
Lists can mask truth that needs to be faced. As long as I kept busy, I didn’t have to examine the troubled areas of my life. The list gave me an excuse not to spend time with God and my family. This enabled me to keep living in a broken state.
Lists can breed false guilt. When people throw options at me it is accompanied by a bit of guilt if I don’t add those things to my lists. But someone’s top priority often was a low priority for me, but scratching it off my list or saying no in the first place would make me feel like I didn’t measure up.
Lists can mask fear. I have been fearful that people wouldn’t like me if I didn’t get things done. That people would think less of me if I said no. So I added things to the list and worked harder, often putting my own priorities on the back burner.
Lists can push God out of the picture. It’s almost as if I lived by “don’t worry, God, I’ve got this one, I know you’re too busy to help me anyway. While I was focused on the lists, I didn’t focus on how God wanted to direct my path.
Lists can lead to burnout. They have been a crutch for me, if not part of the cause of my recent emotional burnout. There’s a high probability I would have been better off forgetting half the things I wrote down. Many of the items on my list held a self-appointed importance. I allowed the lists to distract me from going to the true source of strength, quickly draining whatever strength I had on my own.
Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21
I’m in process of rewriting my list protocol. Its important that we let the lists do their job and no more. We can use them to help us remember the possible to-dos and with God’s direction, prioritize those items. Then be liberal in crossing out things that don’t match up with His direction for our life.
We can use that list to stay on course as we keep your attention on the captain. He may ask us to adjust the rudder in the middle of the journey and we need to be ready to tack left or right as He whispers in our ear where to go.
Be ready to tack left or right when God whispers in your ear where to go. Click to Tweet
Have you ever let the list drive you instead of using it as a guide on a journey that God is directing?