4 If’s of Priorities

We talk about priorities, make lists of priorities, and promote priorities. Like so many things in life, with priorities there is what we want to be reality and what is reality. Here are four “If’s” that are key to making what we want with our priorities and the reality of our priorities.

IF you don’t schedule it, it won’t be a priority.

We can talk about and make lists all day long, but until something is on the calendar, it has little chance of happening. This is true for individuals and organizations. Life is busy. Things happen. Everyday, there are multiple channels of noise and stuff vying for our attention. If we just allow the day to happen, we will not accomplish what we set out to do. We must be intentional in how we order our calendars.

I have heard leaders speak about an initiative and call something a priority, but nothing ever happens because nothing was ever tangibly scheduled to make it happen.

We recently gave a challenge to our congregation for all the married couples to have a date at least once a week for 6 weeks. In that challenge, we specifically spelled out instructions to make it happen. The first was to put it on the calendar that day fro the entire 6 weeks. If we wait to plan, it won’t happen.

Want to workout more, put it on your calendar. Want to spend more time with family, schedule it. Have a program that is a priority for your organization, give it key significant time on the calendar to make it happen.

We must schedule it. When we don’t we are not really making it a priority.

IF you don’t fund it, it is just a talking point.

Organizations especially can present something as a priority and never follow through because no resources are given to make it happen. I have heard companies and churches pick a cause or initiative and call it a priority, but they never budget properly for it. Sometimes this is due to  good intentions with some wrong thinking that the money will follow the intention, but it never does. Sometimes this is due to poor leadership. Sometimes, unfortunately, this is an organization attempting to boost their image with no tangible substance behind their words.

If something is a priority, then it needs to be funded. Here at Capital City, missions is a priority. In 2010 some 24% of our expenses was directly given to missions endeavors and missionaries around the world. It is a priority for us.

It has been said, “Show me your checkbook, I will show you your priorities.” Again, this is absolutely true for individuals and organizations. We put our money into what we believe in and what we want.

IF you don’t talk about it, it will be forgotten.

Only after we have scheduled and set a plan in place to fund and follow through can we talk about priorities with substance. And, we must talk about our priorities. Vision leaks. Meaning we have to keep the focus and direction toward our goals continually at the forefront so those with us know where we are going and how we are getting there.

Everyday, organizations are doing things with no clue why. Others aren’t doing the same things they once were. There are universities today that were founded to prepare Christian ministers to pastor and lead people in the Bible, and today barely even have a course track this direction. This happens because the priorities weren’t communicated consistently over time and unintentional change took place.

We must talk about, present, remind, and talk about some more those things that are our priorities or they will be forgotten.

IF you don’t evaluate it, it will become an irrelevant burden.

After we schedule it and budget for it, we must regularly and methodically evaluate our priority. If we don’t it will take on a form and life that was never intended. All organizations that have been around very long have “sacred cows”. Those things that have always been that way and no one really knows why yet they continue to get lots of attention and money. Without evaluation and the willingness to adjust and change, this can and does happen to anyone, even the most innovative.

Evaluation doesn’t mean elimination necessarily. It might mean adjustment or refocus. It could involve improving a process. It will often involve getting a new perspective and allowing others the opportunity to speak and voice opinions. Evaluation usually brings some change with it. Once in a while, elimination of something is required and the priority shifts.

Note that a priority is not a core value. A core value is a rarely changing guide to why we do what we do.  Priorities are what get us to the point of fulfilling our core values.

Using evaluation intentionally and effectively, helps individuals and organizations continue to grow and remain agile in an ever changing world.

Would you add something to this list?

A note from Shane: Every Tuesday over the next few weeks (or more) I am going to do a series of posts on priority management. Your thoughts, experiences, and ideas are welcome to the conversation.

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