I’ll never forget those yellow pads of paper filled with tasks and appointments. Page after page of calls to be made, reports to be written, meetings to attend. Every minute of my boss’s workday was booked. He was president of a research firm I once worked for, and he was known by his employees and clients as the consummate time manager.
Effective time-management skills can be tremendously helpful. I’ve seen the impressive results. But there’s still the question: do we have our priorities right? Are we paying most attention to what matters most?
For many, what matters most in the long run is that we know where we’re headed in life and being confident that we’re well equipped to get there. Such confidence and direction and fortitude aren’t accidental. They’re cultivated. When circumstances aren’t going smoothly and we struggle at the last minute to stay on top of things, we need to count on and successfully utilize such qualities. We’re talking about spiritual qualities that, in fact, are available no matter what the circumstances. What this comes down to is taking advantage of a divine influence, something we can trust to help us and that we don’t allow ourselves to lose sight of.
“Yes, utilizing those spiritual qualities is important,” we tell ourselves. But what if our days (and nights) are filled to the brim with so many other important tasks? What about deadlines at work, projects needing to be completed, calls that should be returned, family needs?
These things shouldn’t be neglected, but neither should spiritual advancement. Advancement in our understanding of Spirit, God, tears down limits and intelligently directs all aspects of our lives. We shouldn’t think that being spiritually-directed is at odds with other requirements in our day, but rather as helping us approach all our responsibilities in the most insightful, orderly way. In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy writes, “The human capacities are enlarged and perfected in proportion as humanity gains the true conception of man and God.”
Man is the creation, expression, of God, good, as the Bible says; he expresses the wisdom, order, strength and care that come from God and that characterize His government of the universe. But it takes more than a superficial acknowledgment of this in order to bring it out day after day. The need is to know from the start who we really are as God’s offspring and to let His influence more fully govern us in whatever we’re called upon to do.
A larger, deeper understanding of God opens up to us more of what He made us to be—spiritual, whole, expressing all the good that constitutes His nature. This reveals capacities and abilities we might never have imagined were ours. To recognize God as the one and only Mind—limitless, always present—and to lean more and more on the divine Mind, forwards our growth Spiritward, giving us the foresight and control we need to deal successfully with each day’s demands.
Blending our thoughts of priorities with the Divine isn’t a matter of trying to fit spiritual ideas into a crammed-full mind of our own. In fact, the belief that we have a personal, mortal mind of any kind is mistaken. This narrow, so-called mind is to be subordinated and its cries of pressure, fear, and so forth are to be rejected, not accommodated. In this way we utilize the intelligence and order that belong to divine Mind and that are available to us regardless of the situation. Mary Baker Eddy points out in Science and Health: “To divest thought of false trusts and material evidences in order that the spiritual facts of being may appear,—this is the great attainment by means of which we shall sweep away the false and give place to the true.”
If our workload is encroaching on opportunities for prayer and spiritual study — if we’re rushing around humanly yet accomplishing very little spiritually — we should remember that taking the time and making the effort for spiritual growth is essential to progress. It reaps practical benefits, not penalties. It’s important as well to realize that Mind doesn’t suspend its harmonious government in times of peak human demand and fast-approaching deadlines. We can always pray. Prayer is our heart’s deepest desire for spirituality. Nevertheless, it’s wise to set aside sufficient time devoted to prayer alone.
Subduing each temptation to believe that human busyness can intrude upon Spirit’s government of man, we find the needed calm and clarity to wisely see us through any rush of activities. Indecisiveness, impatience, and uncertainty give way to poise and wisdom. We’re less inclined to feel overwhelmed by accumulating demands and more inclined to take the necessary time for prayer, managing our work in accord with Mind’s unerring guidance.
In the Bible we find an example of how Jesus prioritized his day: “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” That priority still makes perfect sense. An adjustment to our routine, postponing unnecessary activities, setting down our devices, or other changes may be required in order to devote our whole heart and mind to this highly important activity.
What we come to see is that spiritual progress is essential because it opens up to us the realities of existence, of our real selfhood as spiritual and unlimited. Letting Spirit more fully govern our motives and actions is quite natural, not burdensome, and it enables us to have dominion over the demands of human life. In this way, we see that striving for spiritual progress is not just a top priority. It’s a privilege.