Label Makers are Your Friend.

label makerHere it is. The label maker. A tool that I did not fully appreciate until I read a book called Getting Things Done. After finishing the book, I bought my first label maker. I go through spurts with it. There will be times where I don’t use it for months & things just wind up moving into piles of various documents, notes, & bits of information. Then I’ll hit a point where I can’t take it any longer…organization has to happen.

I recently returned from a conference (T4G) & when I entered my office…I immediately felt the pressure that only clutter can create. I looked at my desk & had stacks of paper waiting for me. I saw that my bookshelves were teeming with books & they had no particular order. So it was time. The label maker was powered & ready for use once again.

It is true: label makers are your friend. It is weird, I find myself being reminded of a lesson as I use the old label maker. This lesson isn’t novel, but it is helpful. So here you go…what I’m reminded of thanks to the label maker.

Everything has to be given a context.

Here’s how my organizational process goes…sort all items into one of the following categories: trash, new folder or old folder. It is amazing how my office can accumulate so much stuff that winds up being trash…stuff that’s just not useful for the work of ministry. So after all the documents that belong in the trash are removed comes the process of placing each bit of material into a specific context. You decide where that information belongs & give that information a context…also known as a folder. This is where a label maker becomes extremely useful.

And here’s why giving everything a context is so vitally important: I have a limited amount of time, energy & focus. I can’t create more time, I don’t have an unending amount of focus or passion…so I need to be careful with where & how much time/energy/focus I give to various parts of life.

There are a lot of traps when it comes to how I choose to use my time/energy/focus that understanding the idea that everything has a context helps me address…but here is the trap I most often face…

Investing Where It Doesn’t Matter…I can spend my life neglecting what I claim to be most valuable. I think everyone would say they have non-negotiable, absolute, without question, most treasured, most important aspects of life. But how much time/energy/focus do I spend on these aspects? It is scary how easy it is for me to have a very full & busy day…all the while spending very little of it on what is supposedly most important.

But understanding context helps me by causing me to remember the big picture. Contexts helps me see what needs my attention right now, what will need my time later this week & what will require my consistent time/energy/focus each & every day. Context reminds you of what is ultimate & what is not. Without context, everything & nothing can appear ultimately important…and that’s no way to live.

Here’s how this looks in my life: Ministry is important…but if I don’t love my wife well, then my ministry is in vain…but I can’t love my wife well if I don’t follow Christ faithfully…and I won’t follow Christ faithfully unless I spend time practicing spiritual disciplines.

So do I spend time practicing spiritual discipline? Do I invest in my family well because I’m abiding in Christ? Is my ministry consistent with my personal life?

These are the questions I find myself asking in light of context…I’m sure you have your own questions for your life & whatever is most valuable to you.

I hope this helps you navigate life in a way that honors God…now go buy a label maker.

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