What to do and what not to do

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

THIS QUESTION touches on a key issue in time management: the importance of establishing priorities that lead to greater efficiency and peace of mind in the home, office, church, playground, schoolroom. Making good choices through balancing priorities is a focus in a Business Week special report that discusses in depth how this issue is being tackled (Aug. 25–Sept. 1).

In one interview, author and "management thinker" Jim Collins says that a "not-to-do list" is more important than a "to-do list," which just grows longer. You need a corresponding item on the "stop doing" list, he says, advising readers to build "pockets of quietude" into their schedules – to make an appointment with yourself and keep it.

Although this report focuses on office situations, it encourages readers to consider decisions they make every day. Those who consistently view life through the lens of Spirit are likely to pay attention to the not-to-dos. Through prayer-attuned introspection, they may consider whether they're ready to stop judging others. Or stop being impatient, unwilling, impetuous. They may stop reacting to what they disagree with. They may even stop expecting material medicine's methods to heal what only Spirit and spiritual treatment can reach and transform. And they may stop limiting God – and man and woman made in the likeness of the Infinite.

The Bible says, "Refuse the evil, and choose the good" (Isa. 7:15). Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy wrote: "Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 392).

Whether these approaches tell us we're off track in some area, or help us see our present course with fresh inspiration, they soon confirm that there's nothing to hinder our freedom to adjust and grow spiritually. As beings made in God's likeness, we're always at one with infinite intelligence, with the one divine Mind. What could stop us from making wise choices when we're inspired by and responsive to this Mind, which is supportive, never uncaring or remote? Mind is the force behind the divine order of Spirit, on which we can rely, as well as the integrity of Truth – in the office, nursery, sick room, kitchen, or on the battlefront.

The guidance that comes as spiritual intuition is always available to the prayerful heart. God also bestows the insight needed to discern what He's telling us to do or not to do. This takes one beyond weighing human options to the very wisdom and guidance that Jesus sought from God as he conceded, "I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things" (John 8:28). In similar vein, Mrs. Eddy wrote: "To ask wisdom of God, is the beginning of wisdom" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896," p. 359).

"Pockets of quietude" can become places of prayer that make it easier to decide which attitudes call for prompt revision. Which motives should be abandoned as unloving. Which thoughts ought to be rejected as unhealthy. Which tasks can wait until tomorrow, which deserve higher priority, or which never need tackling.

Sometimes just a moment's awareness of the divine Mind's presence and beneficent control takes one beyond the need for personal action. You realize you can safely leave the design of your life to this Source of all good impulsion. Its action is unerring – Mind knows no uncertainty, confusion, mistakes, or delays.

Most important among the "not-to-dos" is not to be deceived by the subtle or aggressive beliefs of the human mind, described in Science and Health as "an idolater from the beginning, having other gods and believing in more than the one Mind" (pp. 186–187). Spiritual intuition enables one to watch the flow of thoughts, and ask questions such as: Is my purpose to honor the will of God, to love my neighbor, to share the good news of Christian healing? Then, each step can be directed by the supreme Mind; God's caring wisdom never stops showing us what to do and what not to do.

Adapted from the Christian Science Sentinel.

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