It took cancer for me to separate the essential from the optional.

A pastor who knows me well once told me, "Jack, you have a bias toward action."

I took this as a compliment. For fifteen years, I have been active serving New Life Presbyterian Church, a growing congregation in suburban Philadelphia. As I thought about that comment, in September 1987, we were planting a daughter church in nearby Fort Washington. Each Saturday I lectured to our leadership training class and on Sunday shared the preaching with another pastor. I helped initiate our fund-raising program for a new building; we needed $1,200,000 in pledges by early December. I was also scheduled to speak at a seminary in late October and at a missions conference in another church in November.

One Tuesday I picked up my Day-timer to review the week's schedule: four seriously ill people to call on, my own doctor's appointment, several requests for counseling, a sermon outline for the church bulletin to be completed by tomorrow morning, a fund-raising letter to be written to the congregation by Thursday ...

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