Eisenhower and The Magnificat
by Susan Ridgell
December 23, Wednesday – Psalms 72, 111, 113; 2 Samuel 7:1–17; Titus 2:11–3:8a; Luke 1:39–48a(48b–56)
(ESV Daily Office Readings Online)
Mary heard the unbelievable news from the Angel Gabriel. She replied, “How can it be?” Her faithfulness led her to say, “Let it be to me, according to your word.” Gabriel told Mary about Elizabeth carrying a son, too, and Mary dashed off to see Elizabeth. What amazing things happened then … John the Baptist leapt in Elizabeth’s womb when he heard Mary greeting Elizabeth, and then Elizabeth recognized exactly what was going on: Mary was carrying the Son of God. After that, Mary praised God with words we now call The Magnificat, or Mary’s Song of Praise.
What do these, such significant events that paved the way to redemption of our sins, have to do with time management and General Dwight Eisenhower?
One task I get to do at work is coach our clients’ managers and leaders within a structured professional development program. Last spring, one young engineering leader I was coaching asked me for advice about how to better manage time. Thinking of his particular situation, I recommended a method that defines how we spend our time into four quadrants along two axes: importance and urgency. Using this particular tool helps us manage time better because we become aware of how much time we spend in each of the quadrants. I asked him to conduct a time audit based on this approach.
During the next couple of months, as the young man began analyzing how he truly spent his time, he gained a deeper understanding: We don’t manage time. We are given minutes and hours, but we don’t manage how the clock ticks. We manage priorities. We manage our choices about what we do.
Everything we do represents our choices about our priorities.
Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Last Sunday, we heard the Rev. David Freels preach on The Magnificat. He explored what it means to magnify: specifically, to make larger. What do we make greater, or important, in our lives? In time management speak, what is my priority, and what do I focus on?
During his sermon, David got our attention with this: “We all magnify something. What is it?”
Mary chose praising God, obedience to his calling for her life, blind faith, and constancy of purpose. Mary based her priorities on the mission God gave her. Her actions, after choosing her priorities, are shining lights of guidance for us. As we make the many choices we face every day, what do we magnify? On what do we focus?
And about General Eisenhower … Although there are several commercial versions of the time management system I described, it’s usually attributed to Eisenhower. He used this model of importance and urgency to guide his military leaders, and they found it created great focus.
As Advent draws to a close, let’s choose The Magnificat as our focus. May we magnify you, Lord.