The conflict between the urgent and the important is inescapable. How easy to get the two confused! It is common for us to think that by staying busy and working hard we’re dealing with the important things.
But that is not necessarily the case. Those things most urgent rarely represent things that are most important. And therein lies the reason so many people today feel such a lack of satisfaction after working so hard and for so many hours each day.
Not only is that frustration true in the world in which we live, it is all-the-more true in the church. When we substitute the urgent for the important in the church of Jesus Christ, we emphasize . . .
But it leaves us feeling flat and empty. Exhaustion replaces satisfaction. Furthermore, it smacks of the secularized world in which we work.
Perhaps this helps explain why so many activities in so many churches distract from the one essential ingredient that makes a church unique in this postmodern society: worship.
A Horizontal Perspective
When we look at life with a horizontal perspective, the urgent takes center stage. It is loud. It is popular. It is product-oriented. The horizontal highlights all things human . . . like . . .
- Human achievement
- Human importance
- Human logic
- Human significance
- Human opinion
- Human efficiency
- Human results
It demands our time and attention. As that ever-present tyranny screams at us, the most natural reaction is to yield, giving it our first priority. After all, it’s urgent! We’re all too familiar with its voice.
Instead, ministry that is vertical allows and even invites a supernatural enablement that draws people to worship God not ourselves. Read carefully how the Apostle Paul sums up the importance of the horizontal in our ministries in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5:
When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom (horizontal) to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified (vertical). I came to you in weakness–timid and trembling (horizontal). And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches (horizontal), I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit (vertical). I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom (horizontal) but in the power of God (vertical).”
You get the picture.
The underlying objective of a church committed to the important things—rather than the urgent—is the cultivation of a body of worshipers whose sole focus is on the Lord our God.[ref]Excerpt from Charles R. Swindoll, The Church Awakening (New York: FaithWords Hachete Book Group, 2010) Copyright © 2010 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved.[/ref]