What are you going to do with the 30 minutes after reading this article?
Thirty minutes is a long enough time to have a meaningful conversation, connect
with God through prayer, do some quick exercise, or finish a looming task.
Alternatively, you could use the time less productively and check your social
streams (maybe for the third time today?) or even watch the next episode of your
show. You have limitless options at your disposal.
And some may say these next 30 minutes are the most important 30 minutes of your
life. They are, after all, the only 30 minutes you have control over. Once they arrive,
they are the here and now.
How do you decide to spend your most precious resource, your time?
As a Christian counselor I’m faced with a similar challenge as I sit with clients. We
have an hour carved out. What should we talk about? The options are wide enough
to cause anyone to scratch their head and wonder, “How do you pick?”
It’s led me to a simple question that yields profound answers: “What’s important
Several weeks ago I asked a client, “What’s important for us to be talking about
now?” He took a few moments and said it’d be good to talk about his bedtime
routine with his three young children. It had become disconnected and task-
oriented, and he felt he was not serving his children or himself. He spoke about how
that, in some ways, this is symptomatic for his life in general.
On my own, I would not have guided the conversation there. When asked that
simple question of, “What’s important now?” my client had an answer that led him
to an important space.
As I write this article, it’s the beginning of summer – a season full of more things to
do than time to do it in. When I prepare my weekends, I ask myself, “What’s
important for our family now?” It may be taking a pause from the breakneck speed
we often operate at, or it could be that our family needs some special memories. It
may be important for each of my kids to have alone time with a parent. Since we
lead dynamic, changing lives, what’s important right now changes frequently and
When you sit down for quiet time with God, how do you choose what to study and
what prayers to pray? What if you started that time by asking, “What’s important for
me to be talking to God about?” You may be surprised by your own answers.
A good verse to pray when using this mindset is Psalm 25:4-5, “Make me to know
your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you
are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.”
God’s path for you today may be to have a difficult conversation. It could be to serve
someone in a unique way. God may ask you to spend time in confession. Or His path
for you may be to delight in his creation and practice gratitude. We need only to ask
God what’s important in His economy and His wisdom.
Lose the Pressure
The point of asking, “What’s important now?” is not to increase pressure and
urgency. We do enough of that already.
Be careful not to ask the cousin to this question: “What do I have to get done right
now (or else)?” Before you know it, you’re in a storm of to do list checkboxes
swirling around you. You feel under the gun and try not to make a mistake.
That’s scarcity thinking, and it’s just not helpful. You and I were wired that way by
this world, not by God. The God-influenced way of thinking is Psalm 118:6, “The
Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
Asking, “What’s important now?” from a place of fear and scarcity will give us an
answer on how to temporarily reduce these feelings. But asking the question from a
place of hope, faith, and possibility will give us an answer that guides us deeper into
Make It Directional
Another way to use this question for clarity and guidance is to ask it about specific
areas of your life. In my example above I asked it about my family, but you can ask
this question about any life area.
Below I’ve listed some areas of focus that are important to all of us, but you can craft
your own list and make it specific to your life stage, goals, and values.
Give yourself the gift of clarity and spend five minutes answering these questions.
Or better yet, write the questions down on a sheet of paper, and answer these
without a screen in front of your face. Talk out your answers with a friend. Talk out
your answers with God.
What’s important now in the area of your physical body (fitness, diet, and sleep)?
What’s important now in the area of personal growth and betterment?
What’s important now in the area of family (family of origin, extended family,
and your family of creation)?
What’s important now in the area of relationships with others? And in each
specific relationship with someone of importance (significant other, family,
What’s important now in the area of the work you do?
What’s important now in the area of your community and your engagement
What’s important now in the area of your relationship with Christ?
Jon Noto, LCPC, is a member of White Stone Counseling Resources, a Christian counseling practice that partners with local churches.