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3 Steps to Avoid the Tyranny of the Urgent

Do you ever feel like you spend your day putting out fires instead of building your dreams? Do you feel stuck, like the Israelites, circling around and around the same problems without really getting where you want to go in your career or life? The problem may well be the tyranny of the urgent. Most of us live our lives smothered by the tyranny of the urgent and we don’t even know it! So what do I mean by this? Well, the tyranny of the urgent is what causes us to sell our long-term legacy by only serving short-term, urgent issues and solutions. The problem is, this way of living and working leads to burnout and long-term failure.  

To gain success in any area, we have to avoid the tyranny of the urgent. When we look to Jesus, we see that He restrained from big, flashy growth early on, and built a solid foundation for the most powerful 3 year ministry that ever existed! The devil offered Jesus short-term solutions when Jesus finished fasting in the desert. But Jesus did not exchange his destiny to meet an urgent feeling of a need for food or power. 

I want to share with you three ways you can grow in resisting the tyranny of the urgent in your life, business, ministry and relationships.

1. Have a long-term plan in place

Jesus was about His Father’s business. To be powerful and achieve great things, we have to have a long-term plan in place to keep us on track and be able to resist the tyranny of the urgent. Lauren and I take the time to regularly review our long-term goals. I recommend you do the same! Success takes discipline, obedience and strategic thinking. Our job is to be wise stewards and not get out of balance by letting short-term demands outweigh long-term thinking and planning. 

2. Identify Your Fears

If urgency comes like a “flavor of the day” (different day, different problem, but same urgency), we need to consider that the urgency is playing on our fears. Sometimes, of course, it is essential that we do attend to the urgent. However, if we see a consistent pattern, or feel everything is urgent, we have to look into where this is coming from. Usually, the more that fear or shame has power over us, the more we will feel swayed by the pull of the urgent. We will feel we have to control and take care of the problem, instead of inviting God in, resting in our identity as sons and daughters and asking Him to help us see the big picture. When we can identify our biggest fears, we can start to get help from God and others to conquer them, so they no longer drive us into the tyranny of the urgent.

3. Focus on Building a Legacy 

Our job is to start with what we have and build a legacy for the future for our family, and the family of God. If we make our daily decisions based on legacy, we will usually make the best decisions. If the urgent comes running up to you with a new problem, stop and ask yourself, “Will attending to this urgent thing help me build and protect legacy”? This can help us to identify if we are making a decision from a place of health, or from a place of impulse, shame, or fear. When we think of our lifetime as a whole, and consider the impact of making good, balanced decisions over the course of 5, 10, or 15 years, we see that these small decisions can build up. These small decisions create better results than rash decisions that leave us feeling like we’re running on a hamster wheel. 


If you have identified with any of this, be encouraged! A huge shift happens when we can see what is happening in the short term, and realize some of the fires are smoke and mirrors that the enemy uses. He does this to fool us into selling our birthright of peace, identity, healthy relationships, inspiration, legacy and all that we are created for. Let’s resist the urgent together today!


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