The real issue is TO-DO lists. “Are they good for us or detrimental?” – that is the question.
During a recent Monday Bible study, we were reading and discussing the scripture lessons for Oct. 9, 2016. These were 2 Kings 5:1-1,7-15, Psalms 111, 2 Timothy 2:8-15 and Luke 17:11-19. As a supplement, we used some commentary – one from a Scholar and one from a Preacher, Pr. Aimee Appell to be specific. Pr. Appell said and I quote a portion of her writings:
“Unfortunately, the to-do mentality has a tendency to show up in our relationships with one another and with God as well. In Lutheran parlance, our to-do lists have the taste of the law about them. What must we do to get right with God? What must we do to earn God’s grace? Those weeks, even moments when we are able to let go of the to-do list, those are the times we find ourselves resting in the relationship we have with God. And then quickly wondering what we’re missing.” and later in her commentary, she wrote:
“The epistle reminds us that “the word of God is not chained,” and it would be a misstep for the preacher to reduce God’s word to either law or gospel. In a sense, there are not two words (law versus gospel) but one unified word (law and gospel). As preachers, we need to be careful not to reduce this dialectic to a moralistic syllogism ( to-do list = law=bad), versus Sabbath rest=gospel=good). After all, the list is not the law, though it may act on us as the law, particularly when we try to justify ourselves against it and through it. Rather, our problem with our to-do list is the same problem we have with the law – we are never able to do enough”.
Now I am a type A person and I use TO-DO lists all the time. In fact, in 1985 I took a course titled, “Getting Things Done.” It had a profound impact on me and my career. While I can agree with some of Pr. Appell’s points, there is one aspect that I greatly differ with. I learned that the TO-DO list frees my mind to focus on the task at hand. When I sit down to journal, I can meditate and allow the Holy Spirit to guide my pen. All those other things I need to do are on my list and I don’t need to think about them now. I am free from other tasks because the list is holding them for me. My TO-DO list is a key aspect of my spiritual discipline.