Do you ever find yourself “stuck in the thick of thin things?” (Credit for that quote goes to Stephen Covey.) You’re busy with urgent matters, things that cannot be ignored, but most of them are small things, or thin things, things that aren’t making you successful. You have big important things that you want to get to, “thick things” that will make you successful, but you don't have time to get to them. This plagues many people in terms of their personal time management as well as organizational time management. What’s the solution? Steven Covey has some amazing insights in prioritizing our material responsibilities, but I’d like to discuss a unique spiritual application of this problem and its solution.
Do you find yourself so busy with urgent and important physical matters that you have no time and focus left over for the spiritual? Are you so busy at work that you simply cannot find the time to pray, study Torah, and involve yourself in acts of kindness and mitzvahs? Do you have so many errands to run and bills to pay that you have no time to focus on the things that you know are truly important? You are, spiritually, stuck in the thick of thin things. Important and urgent thin things that do have to get done, but thin things nonetheless. Is there a solution?
Let's go back to personal and business time management for a moment. Picture a really productive day at work. It was the day your customer answered the phone on the first ring and purchased double the quantity you were expecting. The phone rings again, and it’s a new customer, wanting to sign up his entire company for your product. You hit your sales goal for the week by Monday at 2pm. Then you got into your car, got everything on your grocery list, and completed carpool pickup in only a few minutes. How did you do it? Sure, you may have been super talented, organized and thought out, but if those were the only factors you would have those results every Monday.
The truth is that most things in your life are out of your control. Your customer's mood and his ability to invest in your product is out of your control. The grocery store keeping the ingredients you need in stock and pulling into the carpool lane at exactly the right moment are out of your control. Yes, when you work hard, work smart, and are disciplined you’re ready to take advantage of the moments where things align, but you cannot create those moments. Sometimes your work is blessed. In Pirkei Avos 3:6 we are taught, “All who take the yoke of Torah upon themselves, the yoke of other responsibilities will be taken off them.” The commentaries explain that when we prioritize Torah and mitzvahs, we will have more of those moments where things align in a way that we can be successful quickly. In their words, “Our work will be blessed.” When we immerse ourselves in the thick of spiritual things, the Almighty supports our efforts by taking away some of the physical thin things that bog us down.
What that means is that when you dedicate yourself to a spiritually healthy regimen, the Almighty does His job of blessing your work so you can continue doing His. Think you don’t have time to study Torah, pray and do mitzvahs? In a sense you are correct, but you can change that! Find it hard to believe? Try it. Nothing wagered, nothing won.