Weekly Impact is written for leaders by our former Executive Director, Garth Jestley, who has decades of experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. Each week he will share insights on life, leadership and faith.

From my earliest days in business to the present, the task list has been one of my most important personal disciplines. I well remember the large black Day-Timer in which at one time I kept track of tasks, appointments and phone numbers. Younger readers may find it hard to relate. Everything was handwritten in ink so changes were sometimes messy! Because this habit is so deeply ingrained, any “to do” must get onto my (now electronic) task list. Otherwise it is unlikely to happen – unless Mary reminds me!

For me, this fixation with tasks ties to my previous blog post concerning honouring one’s word. In essence, my task list is a record of promises. That said, I need to guard against being enslaved by this list, since a blinkered approach to completing tasks has its own problems, including:

  1. Treating others who stand in the way of accomplishing the task in an unloving manner, thereby missing God’s daily agenda; and
  2. Getting insufficient rest to recharge and refocus.

I will deal with the first problem today, the second next week.

In business, it is not uncommon for some marketplace leaders to refer to the need for “bodies” to accomplish a particular task. As a result of task fixation, people are sometimes collateral damage. The world of investment banking and corporate finance is particularly prone to this phenomenon because of market driven deadlines.

Guard against being enslaved by a task list. Remember to put people first.

It is interesting to consider how Jesus balanced the tension between completing tasks and caring for people. In my opinion, Jesus accomplished more during three short years of ministry than did anyone else in history. In part, this is the result of His clear focus on His mission, which in turn informed His activities. His unique mission statement was concurrently 100% task focused and 100% people focused, thereby elegantly resolving this tension.

For example, one of the ways Jesus advertised good news was by miraculously healing lots of people. On one occasion, He responded to a ruler’s request to bring his daughter back to life by laying hands on her. As He was en route to the ruler’s house, a woman who had suffered from a bleeding condition for years pushed her way through the crowd to touch Him hoping she would be healed. Not only was she healed but Jesus interrupted His task-oriented journey to speak to her and the crowd. And, yes, He did bring the ruler’s daughter back to life!

While I don’t see any mention in the Bible of Jesus using a “to do” list, it is clear it was baked into the very fibre of His being. I am quite certain He would not have done any better had he used the task list on my iPhone. Maybe I need to place greater trust in His organizing my day!

One question for all of us: “Do I put people ahead of tasks?”

Garth Jestley is a husband, father, grandfather, leader and business executive. Most importantly, he is a follower of Jesus Christ.