Either or . . . or both

Over several years of living I have learned that many people choose to be efficient at the cost of not being effective. I also know many people who choose to be effective at the cost of not being efficient. I have always thought that there must be a way to be effective without losing efficiency. I believe there is.

Many years ago I first encountered The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic* by Stephen R. Covey. My first copy had a copyright date of 1989. My current copy, which has a new Foreword and a new Afterword by Covey, lists a copyright date of 2004.Over those many years and multiple copies of the book – I keep loaning people my copy without noting where it is or when I loaned it – I have worked my way through the book a number times, and each time have learned something new.

My most recent revelation presented itself to me shortly after I retired from full-time work. For some reason I started reading and working beginning with the Acknowledgments at the very beginning of the book. That section begins with these words: Interdependence is a higher value than independence (Covey, 3). I was amazed! I had never seen those words before, and they have made a huge difference in the way I live and manage my life and time. None of us are our best when we are alone or isolated.

Without fail, however, the most convicting part of the book for me has always been the section that includes the Covey Time Management Matrix.**

Merrill Covey Matrix Four Quadrants Urgent Important

Just this morning I did some re-reading and realized the importance of including the following words in this post. Stephen Covey writes:

As a longtime student of this fascinating field, I am personally persuaded that the essence of the best thinking in the area of time management can be captured in a single phrase: Organize and execute around priorities. That phrase represents the evolution of three generations of time management theory, and how to best do it is the focus of a wide variety of approaches and materials.

Each generation builds on the one before it – each one moves us toward greater control of our lives. The first wave generation could be characterized by notes and checklists, an effort to give some semblance of recognition and inclusiveness to the many demands placed on our time and energy.

The second generation could be characterized by calendars and appointment books. This wave reflects an attempt to look ahead, to schedule events and activities in the future.

The third generation reflects the current time management field [Current in 1984]. It adds to those preceding generations the important idea of prioritization, of clarifying values, and of comparing the relative worth of activities based on their relationship to those values . . . many people become turned off by time management programs and planners that make them feel too scheduled, too restricted, and they “throw the baby out with the bath water,” reverting to first or second generation techniques to preserve relationships, spontaneity, and quality of life.

But there is an emerging fourth generation that is different in kind. It recognizes that “time management” is really a misnomer – the challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves . . . rather than focusing on things and time, fourth generation expectations focus on preserving and enhancing relationships and on accomplishing results (Covey, 149-151).*

For an unknown period of time I am going to move from an every other day post to a daily post in order that we might move more quickly through some information that I believe is required for us to continue an intelligent conversation that results in ways to be helpful to all of us. Tomorrow’s post will focus on the importance of quadrant 2 time and activities.

Grace and peace!

* – Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. New York: Free Press (A division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.), 1998, 2004.

** – https://sidsavara.com/personal-productivity/prioritization/nerdy-productivity-coveys-time-management-matrix-illustrated-with-xkcd-comics


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Managing Time or Attempting to Manage Time

Every week we have seven days, each day has 24 hours or 168 hours each week, and each hour has 60 minutes for a total of 1,440 minutes per day and 10,080 minutes per week.

I have a pastor friend who spent a great deal of time studying the various time management tools that are available in preparation for writing his own book on time management. At the end of his study he remarked that most, if not all of the tools he studied taught a person how to do more in less time and to feel guilty about the things that do not get accomplished. At that point he knew that his book was going to teach  a person how to do less in more time and not feel guilty about the things that do not get done.

I have another pastor friend who would divide each day into three sections – morning, afternoon, and evening. He then scheduled his time making sure that no more than three days each week had something scheduled for the evening, and that each of those three days had nothing scheduled for both of the remaining two time blocks. Finally he made sure that one day each week had nothing scheduled.

Each week was divided into 27 blocks – one day each week with nothing scheduled, 3 days each week with nothing scheduled in the evening, and 3 days each week when things were scheduled in the evening but with nothing schedule in one of the remaining 2 blocks – morning and afternoon. Out of 27 blocks of time each week one whole day had nothing scheduled in any block, six days where things were scheduled in only two blocks also preserving the rule of nothing scheduled more than 3 evenings a week. This yields a total of 18 blocks each week when things might be scheduled and 6 blocks each week, including three evenings, when nothing could be scheduled, and one entire day each week when nothing was scheduled.

Early in my adult life I was trained in the method of time management devised and taught by Stephen Covey. Finally, a few years ago I devised a unique system that works for me, when I take the time to do it. It combines the Covey system with some of each of the two examples outlined in this post. In my next writing I will outline what works for me and the reasoning I used as I planned my system. It enables me to make good use of my time most of the time, and I think that is what matters. At least it keeps me sane at least most of the time.

Grace and peace!




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One More Time Just for Good Measure!!

Happy to report that all is well – except – I miss writing this blog and I know that it is important for me to get back to regular writing and posting. So here we go . . .

When I was doing my doctoral studies at the University of Oklahoma my composition professor taught me a valuable lesson. He said that I should compose, compose often, compose on a regular schedule, and never throw any of my work away. He followed that by reminding me that I would never know when the snippet that I had discarded would suddenly be just what I needed for another composition project. In other words, a composer learns to compose by being disciplined to practice the art of composition on a regular schedule – the very same exact lesson I learned and knew for so many years – if I wanted to be a proficient player of the piano I needed to practice daily.

I became an excellent sight reader because, thanks to my mother, I practiced sight-reading as a daily discipline. Starting during my junior high years (yes, people my age had no idea that we were really in middle school) my mother insisted that I begin my piano practice every day by playing through ten music selections that I had never seen. I did not enjoy it, and I certainly had no idea how it could ever benefit me. Yes – the result – over the years I became an excellent sight reader which saved my musical life on many occasions.

People often tell me that they do not read music. I respond, “You learn to read music by reading music, you learn to sight read by sight-reading, you learn piano by practicing – you learn to compose by composing. I am now old enough to state without any hesitation – a person learns to write (words) by writing. When I have regularly participated in the discipline of writing this blog at least every other day my writing has improved and when I have failed to do this my writing has regressed. So selfishly, and for my own benefit, I begin the writing of this blog again – hoping that those of you who may read it will encourage me to keep writing for my own benefit.

One of my past issues has been deciding on a subject that should be the focus of this blog. That is not who I am! Yes, I am a musician, a pastor, a husband, a grandfather, a cousin, an uncle, a fan of toy trains (both HO and N gauge), a sports fan (Baseball – St. Louis Cardinals; Football and Basketball – University of Oklahoma – BOOMER SOONER!; and the list goes on and on. I am always the happiest when I am faced with balancing a number of different paths to follow. So that is what you may expect by reading this blog – sometimes I may stick with a single focus for as much as a month or longer – and – often what I write about today will have no relation to what I write two days from now except that I will have written both of them.

Of course I invite you to join me on the journey – a journey to who knows where – remembering that what makes its way on these pages are a reflection of my life and who I am. All are welcome!


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A small word with a very large meaning . . .

Yesterday, October 25, 2015, churches in many locations celebrated Reformation Sunday.

The Latin phrase, Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda! is familiar to many people, especially people who have been part of the reformed tradition for a number of years. I learned it as “The Church reformed, and always in need of reforming!” Over the years I have learned that many people are happy to be part of “The Church reformed” – but often much less willing to be part of the Church “always in need of reforming.”

In my experience – More people like being right better than needing to change.

It seems easy to agree with the idea that is represented by the first part of this slogan, but much harder to find agreement with varying interpretations of the words following “and” – a small but important word defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as, Coordinating. Introducing a word, phrase, clause, or sentence, which is to be taken side by side with, along with, or in addition to, that which precedes it (Oxford English Dictionary).

My question for today is – what do we mean when we say Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda! or in English “The Church reformed, and always in need of reforming!” How should our actions respond to our understanding of the words?

It is my hope that a number of you will respond to this post to begin a community discussion – remembering that it is important that comments always be friendly and respectful.

On Wednesday I will write about the origins of this phrase as well as more of what I understand it to mean.

Please make others aware of this site, and join us in a continuing discussion. A community discussion requires more than a single writer.

Grace and peace


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To blog or not to blog – that really is not the question

This blog started in March, 2011, and since that date I have made 247 posts to this website. The name of the site – humanbeingsanon.com – refers to a book that I was writing at the time – Human Beings Anonymous – a 12 steps volume intended for people who think that they have no problem with addictions. The book is still not finished but it is closer to reality now than it was back in 2011. I am hoping that restarting this blog will push me on toward the finish line.

Along the way two other books entered in to the writing project list. One – a sort of autobiography with lessons I have learned during my life has the intended title of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Pulpit. That project has also had a beginning or two, and is still waiting patiently for my return to the project. The third project as yet has no title but a lot of the content has already been written. It is to be a set of reflections on the current state(s) of music ministry in the church. The original inspiration for this book was an earlier volume that has always been one of my five favorite books. Published in 1981 by Westminster Press, it carries the title Faithsong: A New Look at the Ministry of Music and was written by Thomas L. Are, a person who had an immense influence on my work in music ministry from the early 1980s to the present. While everything in that volume is still valid, the church of today is not the same as the church in the concluding years of the twentieth century.

I have some friends who will read this post and ask, “So what is the problem?” or “So why did you stop writing” or “Why can’t you settle on a single project?” The only honest answer I have is “I don’t know.”

But I do have some thoughts on the matter.

My original design for this blog was to write a post every other day, to invite readers to join in a community discussion, and for us all to engage in a group learning process. My rule has always been the same – I am happy for people to disagree with what I write but I do insist that we engage in civil and polite conversation. Many of the most important things I have learned in life have been from people with whom, initially, I completely disagreed. I could see no possibility for us ever to agree, but with further discussion and time, sometimes I completely changed my mind so that I agreed with their conclusions. However, sometimes neither of us could find a way to change our opinions, but we always managed to move forward with great respect for the other person and their conclusions.

I know that people have read what I have written – a few have commented – a few responded that they like the blog the next time I saw them, but there has been very little community discussion of topics. Generally, I write about things which still perplex me – leave me uncertain – topics that I have already had one or more complete changes of what I believe. It has never been my intent to write as if I even had any of the answers.

So here we go yet another time. All of the blogs are still available to read if you would like, or if you would like to suggest a topic I will make an attempt to start a discussion on that topic. But – I do not want to be the only person writing my conclusions on the subject. I hope that some of you will assist me in this endeavor. A quick perusal of the previous posts will open some doors to ideas and issues that I think could benefit from community discussion and learning. So – you have my invitation. On Monday I will post something about something and then we will see where this journey takes us together.

Grace and peace

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This blog is resuming active status . . .

With pleasure we announce that this blog site humanbeingsanon.com will resume active status this coming Saturday – October 24, 2015.

We are grateful for the people who have followed the postings on this site in the past and we hope you will resume with us. Also, please inform your friends that this blog exists – all are encouraged to join in the discussions by commenting on the material found here.


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Apache Stronghold Stops in New York City Before Making Its Way to DC

 Apache Stronghold

NEW YORK—The Apache Stronghold is taking its message to the steps of the U.S. Capitol today and tomorrow. The message is strong one. They are angry that about the land exchange that was tucked into last December’s $585 billion National Defense Authorization Act of 2015 that was passed by Congress.

The Act gives land at Apache Leap and Oak Flat in southeastern Arizona to Rio Tinto, foreign mining company, to mine copper without any environmental impact studies or without consultation with San Carlos Apache Tribe.

The San Carlos Apache Tribe maintains the mining by Rio Tinto will be on sacred ancestral lands where tribal members have historically performed ceremonies and buried their ancestors.

“Since the time of immemorial people have gone there. That’s part of our ancestral homeland, we’ve had dancers in that area forever-sunrise dancers-and coming of age ceremonies for our young girls that become women. They’ll seal that off. They’ll seal us off the acorn grounds, and the medicinal plants in the area, and our prayer areas,” Chairman Terry Rambler told the Huffington Post last December.

The group left their reservation in early July and made its way to Washington.ProtectOakFlat5 (1)

This past weekend, the group was in New York City to bring awareness to the travesty committed by Congress.

This is directly related to my last post!

Mitakuye Oyasin

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