By Erica, Contributing Writer
John Maxwell, the well known writer on the subject of leadership, tells in his book, Leadership 101, about the concept of “planned neglect.” It is the idea that we put off or neglect things in our lives in order to put priorities first. His explanation implies that by applying this idea, it will help us to prioritize correctly and become better with our time. I believe this principle can help the Christian woman of today! And some of you may already be practicing this principle without realizing it.
This is a paragraph from Leadership 101 explaining this concept in reference to an excellent violinist:
She was asked the secret to her success. She replied, “Planned neglect.” Then she explained, “When I was in music school, there were many things that demanded my time. When I went to my room after breakfast, I made my bed, straightened the room, dusted the floor, and did whatever else came to my attention. Then I hurried to my violin practice. I found I wasn’t progressing as I thought I should, so I reversed things. Until my practice period was completed, I deliberately neglected everything else. That program of planned neglect, I believe, accounts for my success. (Maxwell, 1993, pp. 28-29)
For a Christian, planned neglect should do the following:
Establish Right & Godly Priorities in Your Life
Right priorities for a married woman are found in Proverbs 31. The virtuous woman loved her husband and kept his heart safe, clothed and cared for her children, performing the duties that guiding a household requires, all while demonstrating proper character and faith both inside and outside her home.
She also fears the Lord, which is the most important quality in her life. We learn from this example, that these are the qualities and priorities that we should be seeking to perform on a daily basis.
Valuing People Over Things or Tasks
The virtuous woman excelled in many things, but she made the people in her family a priority above anyone else outside of God. Her husband was important to her (vs 11,12) and her children (vs 21, 28). People in your life should come before things and tasks. Why? People have an eternal soul, that will either go to heaven or hell, serve God or not, and this can all be influenced by your care toward them.
Part of a woman’s purpose within her family is to fulfill needs that no other person in the world can fill. For years I have lived thinking that my housework or personal project was most important. I shoved people off and made them feel unwanted by focusing all of my attention on tasks… tasks that could wait. Which leads us to the next point.
Use Time as a Tool instead of a Taskmaster
Time should be our tool, used to plan around the people in our lives, not our taskmaster to push us forward to accomplishing tasks while neglecting the personal needs of our husbands or children. Tasks are irrelevant when a baby should be nursed, a child comes in with a question, or a husband needs his laundry washed for work the next day.
The advantage of planned neglect, is that you should know the needs within your home, better than anyone else and plan your time around those needs.
It allows freedom to minister, without having a regret. When I plan to spend time with my family and to take care of their needs, then it allows me to be able to relax during certain parts of the day instead of feeling guilty for wasting my time.
The Bible says in Ephesians 5:16, that we should be “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” It isn’t that our lives are necessarily filled with evil things, it’s the way in which we manage our time. The idea of redeeming the time from the Strong’s Concordance, is the idea that we are rescuing it from being lost (Olive Tree Bible App, 2001). There’s no better investment of our time than spending it in godly ways and in ways that care and minister to those of our household. Our culture loves self-enjoyment and pleasure, we have to learn to neglect ourselves and love like Christ does, sacrificially redeeming the time. Yes, making dinner and laundry can become boring, but these are tasks that minister to our family, which is one of God’s priorities for our life.
Plan Ahead When You Can and Minister in the Moment
Planning involves knowing and seeing the needs of your family and making time to spend time with them BEFORE a problem arises. When a problem or apparent need comes up, then that is when you need to STOP and minister in the moment. It’s usually a big hint when the kids keep interrupting what you are trying to do, especially if you have been involved in it for a long period of time.
Renee Ellison, from Homeschool How To’s explained during a homeschool convention session I attended, that our reactionary responses to our family members should be holy. How often, when we have a chance to minister in the moment, do we begrudge the person’s need or request and give them a sign of personal inconvenience? You know, the eye roll, outward sigh, yelling, etc. which makes people feel unwanted and unimportant. Stop and minister in those moments when God brings a personal need to your attention with love.
Planned neglect can fit into many places in our lives from maintaining a Bible reading schedule to keeping the flame in your marriage. Each day determines different things we must neglect in order to plan to focus our attention on our family and the priorities God has given to us. May God bless your efforts to focus on the eternal!
Share your tips on how you may be already exercising planned neglect in your life. We’d love to hear anything that would benefit us on the subject of planned neglect!