By Mark A. Taylor
My wife and I are two of the last professionals in America to use a paper calendar.
It’s not that we’re opposed to digital devices. We gladly use our smartphones. I depend on Outlook to keep appointments at work, and, increasingly at home. We’re big text messagers and Facebook users. Evenings often find us at opposite ends of the kitchen table, hunched over our respective laptops. And we’ve even Skyped with a missionary friend overseas.
But I organize my week around my lists, and I need those lists on a piece of paper I can keep on my desk. This year I have a calendar with space to write a new list each week. I organize my work under various headings and take great delight in crossing off each task as it’s accomplished. (Moving an item from this week’s to next week’s list isn’t as fun, but my system keeps me from forgetting.)
I think I learned about list making from my wife. She keeps daily reminders in her paper calendar. If it doesn’t get written there, it may not happen.
(When our first child was born and my wife was almost overwhelmed by trying to keep house and tend to the baby, she made reverse lists. At the end of the day she wrote down everything she had already done and then crossed off each one. It was her way of reminding herself how much she really had accomplished.)
Maybe this sounds weird, but for me list making is almost a sensual experience. I love the feel of the lead pencil moving across a thick pad. (But be assured, I’m composing this on a keyboard at my computer. I may be a late adapter, but I DO adapt!)
Some Bible study last week brought me to a passage perfect for list making. Read Romans 12:9-21 and tell me whether you agree.
As I skim through each directive there, I find a few I think I’m handling pretty well. A few more are new to me. (How do I “keep my spiritual fervor”? Let’s hear some practical ideas for “overcome evil with good.”) And I wish a couple hadn’t been mentioned. (Honor others above myself? Never be lacking in zeal?)
I’ve decided to list everything—at least a couple dozen different items—Paul commands here. I’m going to rate myself on each item. “I do this.” “Maybe I’ve done this some.” “This is a big challenge.” “What does this mean?”
My whole life I’ve asked God to show me his will, and he answers that prayer here. Every item shows how God wants me to relate to others, both in and out of the church. It’s a list to pray about for weeks to come.
And I’ll definitely be keeping it on paper.