Have to Do, Should Do, Want to Do
About the Guest
What's on your "to do" list? Most things never get done if they aren't planned for. Authors Steve and Candice Watters say a good place to begin is with the things you have to do, followed by the things that would be good to do, and then followed by the things you want to do. With so many things demanding our attention, the Watters say it's good to know what your priorities are so you can redeem the time and be fruitful.
Authors Steve and Candice Watters suggest some ways to thoughtfully arrange your do to list.
Have to Do, Should Do, Want to Do
Bob: Candice Watters remembers the day she got a wakeup call and realized her priorities had shifted, without her realizing it.
Candice: Well, actually, I was on Facebook®; and I was so annoyed. Our littlest one was about three at the time. He was pulling my elbow: “Mommy. Mommy, Mommy.” I kept shoo-ing him away, saying: “Just a minute; just a minute; just a minute.” It’s like the Holy Spirit said, “What are you doing!?” I just felt under tremendous conviction. I had to repent and say, “God, I am so sorry. This status update on Facebook is nothing. This child is eternal.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, August 5th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. What can we do to make sure that the priorities we ought to have remain our actual priorities? We are going to talk today with Steve and Candice Watters about that. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. You know, there are times here, at FamilyLife, when Dennis will share with the leadership that he’s going to take a couple of days and get away just for some thinking and some planning. We kind of have a mixed—I’m just honest with you—we have kind of a mixed reaction to that time—
Dennis: That’s of no surprise.
Bob: —because the days that you’re gone are calm—they are calm [Laughter]—but we know that you’re coming back. We know that, when you come back, you will have—[Laughter]
Dennis: There is work to be done!
Bob: —there is going to be—
Dennis: The needs of marriage and family today demand it.
Bob: —it is going to be loaded! You’re going to come back with lots of ideas. That’s one of the challenges I think we face—in families and in a ministry like this—all of the things that look important. You really do have to sift through and decide what’s the most important in order to be as focused and as purposeful as you can be.
Dennis: That’s important for ministries, and for marriages, and families as well.
Steve and Candice Watters are well aware of that, as a couple. Welcome back to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us.
Steve: Oh, thank you.
Candice: It’s great to be back.
Dennis: Steve and Candice have been married since 1997. They have four children. He works with Dr. Al Mohler at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
Steve: That would be Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Dennis: The Southern Baptist Seminary—Vice President of Communications—worked for Focus on the Family® for a number of years. You guys have really become students of the planning process. For Barbara and me, it was something that we slowly kind of grew into ,as a couple; but for you two—you mentioned, earlier, that you started out your dating by doing a lot of strategic planning in the midst of dating.
I want you to guide a couple, right now, who are listening to us, about how they can begin the process of planning. Where should they start, besides getting some time away together to begin to talk?
What’s the major issue, or the major question, they need to grapple with first?
Steve: You know, I think the most valuable thing we’ve heard, all along the way, and all the planning we did—and I’ll just add—at the beginning, I think we made a lot of mistakes. We got excited really early about the power of planning. I think, by our third year, we had such a long list of things that we ought to be doing better here—in our health, better here in our money, and maybe right a book, and maybe start a business—that it really became a drag! It became a burden to bear. It really forced us to stop and think a little bit more about it: “What really is valuable? What really is important?”
For all the things C.S. Lewis is known for—that he actually had something wise to say about time management—at one point, he said, you know, “There are things that we have to do, there are things we should do, and there are things we’d like to do.” The sad thing is when you look at your calendar and realize how little of what you do falls into any of those categories.
Steve: So, we started at that model and thinking: “Okay. What are the things that we have to do?”
If you think in that category—it’s like paying taxes, having your driver’s license renewed—those things that are pressing on you / that have a timeline—have maybe some legal ramifications / some urgencies—there’s some commitments there.
Then the things you should do. It’s the things that are good and right and important to do—the things that, to be honest, as a believer, grow out of loving the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and loving your neighbor as yourself. They are things we’re often convicted to do—that is just a matter of us doing.
And then that category of what do you like to do? I think it was so valuable that C.S. Lewis would capture that—to realize that God designed us to enjoy His good gifts and that it’s amazing that we would have to stop and think about the things we truly enjoy and make time for that because the reality is—we settle for lesser things than the things we truly like to do.
I think about how often I love to just read a good book, but I find myself grazing on social media—or I love to be engaged with a great movie; but instead, you know, just flipping through channels and not really doing something that is meaningful.
So, thinking through those three categories—really spending some time thinking and praying about what needs to be done, what you should be doing—and I would say—under the should be doing—that’s where so much of your growth in marriage and growth in raising your children / raising them up in the fear and instruction of the Lord falls in. If you really spend some time praying in those categories, things are going to come to mind that you’ve been recognizing, “Yes, we should do that.”
Bob: This is really where Ephesians 5 comes into play here because it talks about redeeming the time in the midst of the evil days; right?
Steve: You think about that verse that comes just before Paul is giving instruction for husbands and wives—that he stops and he points out that we should live as wise and not as unwise. We should make the most of the time because the days are evil.
You think about that—you recognize there are threats to our marriages. There is an enemy who roars around, as a lion prowling, looking to see who he can destroy / looking for opportunities to drive a couple apart. God’s, not only calling us to be vigilant in protecting our marriage and family from that threat, God’s actually calling us to be fruitful—to have marriages and families that are producing life and growth and spilling over into sharing with others and spreading our faith. That’s a tall order which requires that stewardship—requires making the most of the time.
Bob: So, the place a couple needs to start, in terms of mapping out a plan, is to stop and consider: “What must we do? What should we do?” and, “What do we want to do?”
Start making lists of some of those things, and now you can begin the prioritization process. In fact, there’s a component in the new FamilyLife Growapp that we’ve been working on that walks you through a process of helping you identify “What are those things?” so that you can get them written down.
Steve: You know, I would say what’s valuable about those categories is—if you think about them, a lot of those things we’re talking about—in terms of what you should do and what you like to do—are things that are important, but there’s usually not a deadline. There’s usually not an inbox email that’s pressing in on you. There are so many other things that are demanding your attention. These are all things that you have to make urgent / you have to make important. We all realize these are good things to do, but you have to set a date with those things. You have to make a commitment to them.
Dennis: Candice, let’s move this down where everybody lives.
You’re a mom of four children—14 all the way down to age 5.
Dennis: Take those last two questions—“What should we be doing?” and then, “What we want to be doing,” and give us an idea of how that is spelled out, as you do your planning.
Candice: Well, it starts with praying—just having some quiet time to say, “Lord, what are the things that our kids are struggling with?” I pray specifically for each one—that He would show me “Where are their growing edges?” because I want to come in and meet them at those specific points of need. He is faithful. When we ask Him to give us wisdom, He does. His Word tells us that He will. I just, in the last week, have been capturing ideas as they’ve come to me during my quiet time. Our one son needs help with being more respectful. Another needs help with maybe being a little more courageous, and going after things, and not being so timid. Then our daughter has other needs, and so on.
So, just start writing those things down—and then not interrupting Steve’s quiet time to say: “Honey, I got it! The Holy Spirit just gave me the list!” No—being a little more strategic and waiting until we are now in planning mode to say: “I’ve been praying for the kids. Here’s what I think we need to work on this year. What do you think? What is the Lord saying to you?” At a minimum, can we pray together: “Okay, God, we now see what the problems are. What are the solutions? How do we cast this in a positive light for them? How do we take ‘no complaining’ and make it ‘be more pro-active’ or something?”
Dennis: What I want to just underscore is—your kids change because, not only are they growing up, but the seasons of life and the issues they’re facing change as well. You have to be thinking through, pro-actively, as a husband and a wife.
This is where my hat goes off to the single parent moms who have to do it by themselves. That’s a big challenge—just to have one set of eyes on it is a challenge—but having a husband and a wife / a mom and a dad both looking at the child and thinking about: “Where’s he headed?” “What’s she about to face at this stage in her life?”
Bob: Okay, but I want to get back to you—and your day, and your week, and your “shoulds,” and your “wants,” —because I’m guessing that you like to read; don’t you?
Candice: I love to read. Yes.
Bob: Okay, so reading would be one of those “want” things?
Candice: Right. Yes.
Bob: Okay; you also blog.
Bob: And that takes some time; doesn’t it?
Candice: It does.
Bob: And you workout?
Candice: Yes. I try.
Bob: Okay, so there’s the workout side of stuff—
Dennis: Steve, where do you fit in to all of this? [Laughter]
Bob: You are married and you do have kids.
Candice: Yes. Here’s something that’s interesting that I’ve found—when you do things in the right order, you get more done. When I wake up in the morning—and I pray first, and I meet with God before I meet with man—and that means I can’t use my cell phone or my iPhone® as my alarm because, the minute I touch that device, I’m in another world. My mind is racing to my to-do list. So, I have to get up and be totally analog, first thing in the morning—that means nothing digital. I read my Bible—it’s quiet—and pray about the day.
And then I don’t feel guilty when I sit down at my computer next to do a quick email scan and to maybe pay a bill.
Then I don’t feel guilty when I get on the treadmill. I know: “I’ve prayed. I’ve handled anything urgent, and now I can listen to FamilyLife Today while I run on the treadmill,” or, “I can read the newspaper.” I don’t feel guilty, at that point. And then I’m ready to hit the day running. We homeschool—so then it’s teaching the kids. There’s breakfast in there, and dishes, and all these things.
But, when I get up in the morning and I start with email—which I’m tempted to do because I’m human—I can be sitting at my desk for an hour. All of a sudden, I look up and an hour has gone. That was my most productive hour of the day, and it’s wasted. So, I think doing things in the right order has a profound effect on your ability to be productive and to be wise with your time.
Bob: There are times when the things you’d like to do—like that book that is by the bedside that you haven’t picked up in a week—doesn’t happen.
Candice: Right; yes.
Bob: Do you feel bad at the end of that week?
Candice: I feel bad at the end of a night when I knew I had an hour to read and I read Twitter® instead because there’s something mind-numbing about that using your thumb to just continue to scroll down this never-ending stream.
Twitter never stops sending you new updates. We’ve actually had to have conversations where we said: “Okay. We both want to read more. We both want to be better stewards. What if we set a timer, after we say goodnight to the kids, and we have 15 minutes to check Twitter—then, when that goes off, we put our phones away for the night and we read for an hour?”
This works for us. It wouldn’t necessarily work for anyone. It’s certainly not a biblical command that you only do 15 minutes of Twitter, but I know it’s the difference between waiting until after a good meal to have a great piece of dessert versus coming to the table hungry and starting with dessert. I feel sick in my physical being when I just eat junk food, and when I just read Twitter or just read something that’s snippets—that’s grazing, like Steve said—my soul feels tired and weary.
Steve: The recreation / the re-creation—that’s kind of the context of recreation—we need to be replenished. God gives us those good gifts of: taking a long walk, of exercise, of reading a good book.
Like I said, though, we have to be intentional about those things because, otherwise, our temptation is to just grab a box of Oreos or the equivalent in social media or wherever. That’s not doing for our soul what our soul needs.
Bob: Years ago, I remember—and you’ll remember this too—Stephen Covey and his
7 Habits book talked about the four quadrants of life.
Steve: That’s right.
Bob: He talked about the things that are urgent and the things that are important. He said there are some things that are both urgent and important—you know, if the house is on fire—that is both urgent and important—that you need to address that. He said there are other things that are urgent but they’re not important—like, “The show starts in 30 minutes,”—but we never really stop to think, “Do we really even want to watch that show?”
Steve: That’s right.
Bob: So, it’s urgent; but it’s not really all that important—but we default to the urgent. We leave the important stuff—that’s not urgent—kind of in that, “I’ll get to that one of these days.”
What you’re doing with the content that you’ve developed for the FamilyLife Grow app is helping us re-elevate the important back into our lives and make it urgent.
Dennis: And they do it in a way, Bob, that isn’t just hard work. A lot of planning is just hard work; but you’ve used some quizzes, some fun games that have rewards, in here—in this app—to help couples, not only do their planning, but have some fun as they do it.
Candice, I want you to just take our listeners through one of these assessments that you have. This one just allows both the husband and the wife to do this on their iPhone®, or iPad®, or their Android. It is agree/disagree.
Dennis: It’s very quick. There’s like ten / twelve questions there. What the app does is—it takes all the answers and then helps you see where you agree and disagree.
Candice: That’s right. The questions like: “My spouse usually consults with me before making plans: agree or disagree?” “I often find out, at the last minute, that my spouse has made plans of which I wasn’t aware: agree or disagree?”
“I can count on a regular time, most days, in which I can have a meaningful connection, even if only briefly, with my spouse,” or, “Our vacations and other major events often get thrown together at the last minute and create stress for our marriage: agree or disagree?”
“We block date nights and getaways on our schedule before other things can interfere.” “We don’t regularly pray as a couple.” “We often talk about things we’d like to do, but then we forget to do them.” “We talk through the week ahead to review activities and priorities.” “We often have tension when we go into a weekend without any clear plans.”
Bob: Okay, now I’m listening to this and I’m going: “I’m not downloading that app! [Laughter] That’s just a set-up for marital conflict—right there!
Dennis: It’s not absolute, though, Bob. It says, “Do you usually…”
Candice: That’s right. That’s right.
Bob: But still—if I usually don’t, I’d rather just kind of, “Can we just ignore that and just let it be?”
Dennis: But what happens is—as a result of doing that little assessment, you can find out where you’re missing one another. Then your app actually will guide the couple in beginning to fortify that with solutions.
Candice: That’s right. This app is designed in especially things like this—that expose areas where you disagree. We’re saying: “Look. We want to come along side you and help you live out the vows. You promised, before God / with another, to be one—to be a husband leading his wife in love / a wife respecting and helping her husband. You have to be on the same page if you’re going to do this.”
I have to say, as a woman, to have a husband say: “Honey, let’s sit down; and I want to hear from you. What do you like to do?” The first time Steve asked me that question, I had to think about it because my life was so full of what I had to do to care for our kids, to get food on the table, to get the grocery shopping done and the housecleaning done, I went: “Oh. Can I have five minutes because I don’t even remember what I like to do.”
I felt like he was living with me in an understanding way. It was life-giving to get to answer that question and then to know he heard me. He wrote down what I like to do.
It’s on his plan now that he knows my favorite place to visit if we come into some money. He knows where I would want to go. Or, if we just have two hours on a Saturday, he knows how I would want to spend that time. That builds a culture of love, and understanding, and mutuality, and oneness in a marriage—that it is worth the difficulty of answering “agree/disagree” to get to that point.
Steve: You know, I would say to that—so much of this is just replacing the trivia of life with something that does have eternal value. I mean, you think about Ma and Pa Ingalls—they were spending so much of their lives working together.
Steve: Yes, surviving. Now, in our day, we have to be so much more intentional because we’re not spending our lives working together. It really requires that effort now for us to say, “For all the entertainment temptations that are out there / all the things we could be doing that are trivial, what are those things He’s calling us to do, as a couple / as parents?”
Those are the things we should be spending our time on—that have eternal value—instead of letting so much of our life being eaten up with the trivial, especially considering how much temptation lures in that trivia.
Candice: And we can’t forget that our kids are watching. This is a huge issue for families—that their little kids are watching to see, “Oh, Daddy always has that thing in his hand.” They see your interest. They see you’re engrossed in it—they want you to be engrossed with them. They want you to be engaged with them.
I think it helps us to stop and say: “I’m going to give an account one day before the Judge of the universe for how I spent every minute—for every careless word and for every click of that phone. God’s going to say, ‘Candice, what did you do with what I gave you?’” Time is fleeting. The older I get, the more painfully obvious it is that I was made for eternity. I don’t like the fact that I’m running out of time; but the fact that I am is unchangeable. I want to be as intentional with that time as I can.
Bob: You shared with me a story about a morning when you—I think you were trying to finish up a blog post or you were writing something—and the kids were coming in and wanting some of your attention. It was annoying you; right?
Candice: Well, actually, I was on Facebook, if you must know, Bob.
Bob: That’s right.
Candice: I was so annoyed. Our littlest one was about three, at the time. He was pulling my elbow: “Mommy. Mommy, Mommy.” I kept shoo-ing him away, saying, “Just a minute; just a minute; just a minute.” Then it’s like the Holy Spirit said, “What are you doing!?” I just felt under tremendous conviction. I had to repent and say: “God, I am so sorry. This status update on Facebook is nothing. This child is eternal.”
I quit Facebook within about two weeks of that because I realized it had just consumed my mind. I don’t want that social media to control me. I do still use social media; but when it gets to the point that I feel like I’m not in control of my thought life or my schedule, it’s not worth it.
Dennis: The book of Proverbs is written about being wise in how we live. The word “wisdom” is a Hebrew word that means “godly skill in everyday living.”
If you think about that definition of wisdom, let’s reread the passage, Steve—that you mentioned earlier in the broadcast—Ephesians 5:15 and 16: “Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” In other words, if we’re going to be skillful / have godly skill in everyday living, we have to take a step back and be intentional, together, as a couple.
That’s why what you’ve talked about here in your app—your digital app—and your date nights are so important—for a couple to come together and to really set a course for their marriage, for their family, for each of their children. What you’ve really designed here is something that’s very practical—that’s going to help a lot of couples come together—using the digital instead of having it divide us.
Bob: Although, I’m wondering how many husbands are going to go: “We talked, Honey, don’t you remember? I sent you that thing, and then you sent me that thing back.” The wife goes, “Yes, but I wanted to talk, face to…” “But, we did the digital thing.” You know? You can see some of that happening.
Steve: It’s just a tool.
Bob: Yes, it’s just a tool. [Laughter]
Steve: Well, and I would say, along those lines—it is just a tool. We are dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit. We are dependent on leaning on God; and yes, we need face time—actual—not just iPhone Face Time.
Bob: Yes. Yes, that’s right.
Steve: But it is a helpful tool. I think God gives us a means to do the things He’s called us to do, and I think it can be a very helpful tool along those lines.
Bob: Well, and what we’ve done with it is—we’ve put it inside a new app that we’ve created for smartphones—that’s a new FamilyLife app that has lots of good content in it. In fact, we just shared about this last weekend at the Chicago I Still Do™ event and had a lot of folks who downloaded the app and are starting to use your tool. We wanted to let listeners about it as well.
You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link that says, “GO DEEPER.” There’s information there about the new FamilyLife Grow app that includes the material that Steve and Candice have put together. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link that says, “GO DEEPER,” if you’d like more information about how you can download this new FamilyLife Grow app.
I also want to mention—we were really encouraging the couples, who attended I Still Do, to get with some other couples and to continue to build into their own marriage and to build into the marriages of other folks they know. We made a special offer to everyone who was there for our Art of Marriage® and our Stepping Up® small group kits. We’re going to do this again in Portland—for everybody who comes out to the Portland I Still Do on August 23rd—and we’ll do it in Washington, DC, as well.
I said, “Could we make a special offer for radio listeners?” They said, “We can’t make the same special offer, but we do have a special offer we will make available.”
All you have to do is go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link that says, “GO DEEPER,” on the home page. The information about the special offer is available right there. So, again, it’s for The Art of Marriage small group series and the Stepping Up ten-week series. We hope you’ll take advantage of that—get with some other couples this fall or get with some other guys—and go through this material. We think you’ll benefit, and we think they’ll benefit as well.
Finally, a quick word of thanks to the folks who make FamilyLife Today possible. That’s you—if you have ever gotten in touch with us to make a donation to help support this ministry—you’re committed to godly marriages and families just as we’re committed to godly marriages and families. We appreciate that support.
Right now, when you make a donation to FamilyLife, we’d like to say, “Thank you,” by making available a series of seven recipe cards that you can use to help develop your child’s faith—to grow godliness in your kids. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click in the upper right-hand corner, where it says, “I Care.” When you make an online donation, you’ll have access to these recipe cards; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a donation over the phone.
You can also request the recipe cards when you send us your email and mail your donation to P O Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223.
Now, tomorrow, we are going to talk about men being men—not just guys—but being men. Darrin Patrick is going to join us. We’ll talk about biblical manhood. Hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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