John Broadbanks had a serious flaw. He could not say “No.”

A gifted speaker, John was inundated with invitations, to which he always said “Yes.”

John was on a roll. His church was flourishing; his fame was growing; his wife was charming.

Another blessing came in the form of a baby girl who joined the Broadbanks family. A year or so later a baby brother arrived to keep her company.

Speaking invitations continued to increase. John couldn’t bring himself to say “No,” so he was away from home more and for longer periods of time.

“The dog that follows everybody isn’t much good to anybody” goes the saying.

Now for a quite different story …

Irene was washing dinner dishes and chatting with a neighborhood friend when her four-year-old son barged through the door with a picture in his hand. Tugging on her skirt, he pointed to the picture and started asking questions.

Irene broke off the conversation with her friend, dried her hands, sat down, lifted the tyke onto her lap, and spent a long time totally focused on him and his questions.

When he left the room, her friend flashed her a thumbs-up for ditching her chores to give undivided attention to her son.

“I expect to be washing dishes for the rest of my life,” Irene said, “but I will never again have the chance to spend the time with my son that I just had. And he will never again ask me the questions that he just asked.”

There will be more questions of course … Why is grass green? Why do trees grow right side up? Why did God make spinach? Why do pets die? Why does God let people get sick? Where do grandmas go when they die? What does God look like?

There is something immeasurably good about never being too busy to give attention to those who are most important to you … even when you are too busy.

Another word about John Broadbanks …

He finally got it right. He learned to say “No.” He sensed the loneliness of his wife Lilian, saw the need of his presence in the lives of his children, and came across a verse that knifed deep into his soul …

 Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest (Deut. 12:13).

 John Broadbanks revamped his priorities. He learned to say “Yes” to the most important things and “No” to less important things.

Now about you …

What are your priorities? This is where self-deception is the flavor of the day, so get clear-eyed honest.

Here’s the bottom line: the way you spend your time reveals your real priorities.

And here’s an important question: do you map your priorities, or do you allow others to hijack your schedule? When someone makes demands that take command of what you do and when you do it, they are controlling your life; you are living for their priorities, not yours.

The problem with caving in to the demands of others is that there is no “Off” switch—no last item on the to-do list; mark one entry off and two take its place.

Frantically running from one crisis to the next looks less like serving the Messiah and more like trying to be one.

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