One question I hate answering: what are you going to do today?
I hate it for two reasons.
First, it’s never a quick answer. If I were honest, I would say, “I am going to run around like a chicken with its head cut off looking like I am busy and hectic and active until I absolutely collapse realizing that nothing has been accomplished.”
But I don’t like that much honesty. So I will use words like, “recruit students,” and “provide transportation to children’s activities,” and “ponder truisms to disseminate to the masses (write a blog post),” and “pray.”
(Okay, let’s be really honest—that last one is less true on more days than I care to admit.)
I say all the right things. I will tell you whatever the current buzzwords are for how important I am to everyone around me. I will exhaust you just by detailing my to do list.
So my schedule is full. That much is true. I am busy on most days. So when someone asks me what I am going to do today, I don’t like it because it is a reminder of just how busy I can be.
But the second reason I hate that question is because I have learned how to answer it.
And I hate the answer.
“What are you going to do today?”
“The next right thing.”
I hate—no. I LOATHE that answer. It’s true on many occasions. But I still hate it.
When I was early in recovery from my alcohol addiction, I had a sponsor named Bob. Bob used to asked me what I would be doing that day. And I would start in with headless chicken list, and he would stop me. Then he would ask me again. Thinking he just had a comprehension problem, I started giving him my list a little slower. Then he would stop me again. Then he would ask me again.
This would continue for several minutes. Until I realized what he was actually asking me: “What are you going to do next?” Or, “What is the next right thing?”
It took the better part of a month for the alcohol-induced fog to lift before I could answer that question correctly. What was I going to do? I was going to get in my car and drive to my office.
The answer was that simple. Now once I got to the office, I had something else to do. But it was just the next right thing: check the voicemail messages. Then open email. Then read and study.
And on my day went. One item at a time.
Now my sponosor Bob told me “the next right thing” so many times I was waiting for the next right thing to be to shove those words down his throat.
But I did the next best thing:
I started using those words with the people I sponsored.
Because I learned something real valuable: the busier I am, the less attention I am paying to my life. The less attention I am paying to my life, the more likely I am to give into temptation and pick up a drink. And when I pick up a drink, I don’t stop. So I miss out on my wife and children. I lose relationships with friends. My job gets done, but not to the level it can or should. I fill myself with so much alcohol that I have no room for God.
So I had better pay attention to the next right thing.
Is my schedule still full?
The stack of clothes on my couch waiting to be folded indicate that today has been a full day.
But if you ask me what I am doing today, my answer will be simple: the next right thing.
Now if you will excuse me, I have some clothes to fold.