Daily Reflection
February 21st, 2003
Tom Purcell
Accounting Department
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Genesis 11:1-9
Psalm 33:10-11, 12-13, 14-15
Mark 8:34--9:1

Strategic and operational planning is the process of focusing attention on courses of action that lead an organization, a group of people, or even an individual person, toward a desired end.  While many factors come to bear on whether the plan will be successful, perhaps the most important determinant is whether the group can keep its focus on the steps needed to lead to the desired end.  My experience is many plans fail because the participants are distracted away from the important by responding to the urgent.  They step away from acting on what is the right thing to do and respond to the loudest cry.

Today's readings remind me of how easy it is to respond to the urgent and not the important.  The tower builders thought they were doing the right thing.  They were responding to the urgency in their lives without discerning the important things to which God calls them.  They failed.

The psalm clarifies that the Lord will disregard the plans of nations and designs of peoples.  The Lord's plan alone stands forever. Following the Lord's plan is a response to the important, not the urgent. Following our own plans without regard to the Lord's plan will result in failure.  The Lord will foil those plans.

And Jesus reminds us that it doesn't do much good to gain the whole world and forfeit one's life.  To do so would be to follow the urgent at the expense of the important.  Jesus isn't admonishing us to avoid wealth, power, nice things, comfort and the other gifts of modern life.  He is telling us to keep them in perspective - God's perspective.  He is telling us not to make them an end, or even a mean's to an end, but rather to give up our attachment to them.  Jesus is telling us that if we respond to the cares and attractions of this world we are responding to the urgent.  He calls us to respond to the important.

And so my prayer today is that God will bless me with the grace to keep my focus, to discern the important from the urgent, and to have the strength to choose the important.

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