It took me just 20 minutes to read Tyranny of the Urgent by Charles E. Hummel. That means that unless I am brief in this article, you could read most of the book by the time you finish reading my thoughts. This is the only book that I can think of that I would like to read every year, much less actually find time to do so. It’s really more of a booklet than anything else, but it offers an extremely potent message.
My first encounter with this book was in college as I was studying youth ministry. Ever since then, this book has been not only hugely convicting but also enormously encouraging each time I have read it. Throughout the book, Hummel helps readers examine their priorities in life and how the way our savior Christ lived should impact our own lives, priorities and practices.
This book is tremendously practical as it helps us think about one of the most precious yet fleeting of all of our resources: time. Hummel helps us consider how we could be more God-honoring in our lives and ministries by following four steps:
1. Decide what is important.
2. Discover how time is now being spent.
3. Budget the hours.
4. Follow through.
By following these steps, you will begin a journey to find balance in your life and become a good steward of your time and responsibilities the Lord has given you. Reading this book and thinking through your life will help you be more intentional about what you invest yourself in.
How often have you felt that you were just running from appointment to appointment or from hurting kid to hurting kid, all the while neglecting a mental list of things you thought were really important? This book shows us that, “Your greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important.” In my life this might manifest itself by blowing off my much-too-infrequent date night with my wife to go sit with a student who is hurting and needs to talk. It also might mean that I must sacrifice my personal time with Jesus in the mornings to focus on meeting some deadlines.
In a hundred different ways, we are all enslaved daily by the demands of things that are seemingly urgent, while sacrificing truly important things. There are no hard and fast rules in the book, and because everyone’s life is different, individual wisdom is needed to make proper adjustments in your life.
As a contrast, the book shows that Jesus often retreated to a place of solitude to pray in the midst of a crowd pressing Him for more healings. How could Christ seemingly flee from opportunities that would demonstrate the kingdom on earth and bring glory to His Father in heaven? If Christ is the perfect model for us to pattern our lives and ministries after, what does this lesson from our Savior show us about Jesus, and how does it inform how we should live in light of His actions?
This book will answer these questions and potentially change your life as it has mine. Don’t take my word for it, read it yourself. Trust me, it will shape your life for years to come.