I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading Wayne Cordeiro’s book Leading on Empty and would encourage pastors and church leaders who may sense their fuel takes are running low to pick it up immediately. I’ve already posted a few thoughts in an entry called Faith is living in advance about the book.
In the chapter called Solitary Refinement, Cordeiro encourages you to identify what is your 5%? He explains that 85% of what you do, someone else can do equally well – or without much loss in your not doing it. 10% of what you do, others could do with training and coaching. They may not be able to do it like you would do it, but it would get done without any appraisable loss. However, 5% of what you do, only you can and should do. It’s your core – relationships, calling, unique abilities, etc. You cannot delegate this.
This 5% for me involves my marriage, my kids, my calling and unique gifts and abilities that God has given me. No one else can be me in these areas. I’m responsible for them.
Most of the time, you’ll need to get out of your daily noise to accurately nail down what is your 5%. You need to do this, however, to avoid the tyranny of the urgent, as Charles Hummel described it in his short article by the same name. (You can read it for free here.)
Several years ago an experienced cotton mill manager said to me, “Your greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important.” He didn’t realize how hard his maxim hit. It often returns to haunt and rebuke me by raising the critical problem of priorities.
We live in constant tension between the urgent and the important. The problem is that the important task rarely must be done today or even this week. Extra hours of prayer and Bible study, a visit with the non-Christian friend, careful study of an important book: these projects can wait. But the urgent tasks call for instant action—endless demands pressure every hour and day.
So, in a conversation with Carolyn the other night, I was telling her about these principles – the 85%, the 10% and the 5%. I could sense she wasn’t really tuned in, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes, when I’m sharing with her what I’ve read, I may or may not shift into academic mode. I can usually tell when this happens, because her eyes go glassy and she curls up into the fetal position.
This was not one of those moments.
However, as I wrapped up, I explained again, “So, your 5% is the area of your life that if you don’t do it, no one else will. It’s an area of your life that you are responsible for, that if you don’t do it, it will probably die.” Then I asked, with husbandly expectation of helping Carolyn become a better person from this sincere little moment I thought we were sharing, “What do you think your 5% is?”
“Watering the plant in our bathroom,” she responded. And giggled.
So much for profound marriage moments.
For a little added extra context, Carolyn’s comment was profound, in a sense. When we were engaged, I gave her a little deer planter thingy. She put a vine plant in it, and the running joke was that if the vine died, our marriage would too. There’s been a couple of close calls with the plant along the way (and I think it did die once), but the marriage has thrived in spite of the plant. And Carolyn dutifully waters it, so her comment was not far off.
How about you? What’s your 5%? When will devote sometime to thinking about what you should focus on?