“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33
Today’s post may sound like a simplified approach to compound tons of goals into an unrealistic, over-zealous list of five priorities. But, it’s not. What we’ll discuss can be realistic and obtainable for everyone. In fact, through this approach, the Lord has actually taught my multitasking, overachieving heart to slow down and focus on the areas of my life that deserve my best (those that make an eternal impact).
Why are there five priorities, instead of seven or three? Perhaps because it’s a manageable number (for me). Anything more would be too much. Fewer than five might not allow for enough balance in the overall grind of life.
How do we go about identifying five life priorities? For me, the Lord first led me to some wisdom from Proverbs:
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
Start off with a pen and paper, and sit down with the Lord. Invite Him into the time, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. In numerical order, write down five areas of your life that are most significant to you (and to God as you are simultaneously seeking Him).
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17
Imagine a moment when you’re eighty years old. If you were to retrospectively look back at your life, what would you like to see? Where would you have wished you spent your valuable time? Be realistic, hopeful, and honest. Here is what I wrote (in ranking of significance to me):
2. My Family & Close Friends
3. His Daily Dose
4. Food & Dietetics
5. Mentoring Others & Intercessory Prayer
Next, take a look at your calendar to evaluate how your time has been spent. Be honest with yourself and write down in sequential order what your current priorities are. Here is what mine looked like:
1. His Daily Dose
2. Mentoring Others & Intercession
3. God and Keith (equal in time)
4. Distractions – Facebook, Twitter, Emails
5. Spending Time with other family members
Seeing that my priorities were majorly mismanaged was sobering, and here are two lessons I learned from them:
1. My time, that precious, never-to-return time, was being wasted on useless distractions. As we often discuss, nothing here is evil by itself; rather our response is what can lead us to evil. Remember that there is a time and season for everything (including email and the recreational use of social media). If I spend significant time browsing through my Facebook feed or answering emails, then I am taking time away from diligently growing as a writer, growing as a Dietetics major, or investing in my husband. At that point, they can become a tool for evil by occupying a huge chunk of my time, taking the place of pursuing the God-given goals He has asked me (and that I want) to fulfill.
“O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah” Psalm 39:4-5
2. Often, I found myself placing ministry before God and before my husband. This is a BIG no-no. Ministry is nothing more than the product of being in a loving, nurturing, mature relationship with Christ. The gift should never supersede the giver, but this, unfortunately, is not always the case. Especially when we are passionate about a cause or a new venture He’s asked us to pursue. Ministry does not equate to time with God. Your ministerial work does not equate to a relationship with God. We must set aside time with Him first and invest in that relationship. The ministry work will naturally evolve from such a relationship. This prevents an unhealthy view of God and burnout.
In the past year, there were times that His Daily Dose and mentoring others (both of which are ministries the Lord has entrusted to me) also came before my husband. This is also a BIG mistake. Ministry never comes before marriage. Never. You will never enter into a covenant with ministry, but you do enter a covenant of marriage with your spouse. Because marriage is the most important human relationship you will ever experience, treat it well, beloved. Too many families are neglected for the sake of the Gospel, and this shouldn’t be so. Take care of your home before seeking to take care of others.
“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.” Colossians 4:5
“And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, ‘Why does he not?’ Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. ‘For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless’.”Malachi 2:13-16
So, what can you do in your life with these five life priorities?
First, once you develop them, they provide a basis with which you can correctly manage your schedule each week. They empower you to choose how to intentionally spend your time, make wise decisions, and invest in others. They remove us from being victims of our circumstances. We can take control of how we spend our years here on earth. This is extremely wise, beloved.
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12
Secondly, they force us (in a healthy way) to focus and become excellent in our areas of strength. They help us eliminate any confusion or pressure to do “everything” well all the time. Less can produce more, beloved. Focus on less, and you will produce a harvest. That is how we can reach our goals. We remove ourselves from a life of mediocrity (doing a little of everything poorly) and into a life of excellence (living intentionally and becoming experts in the areas that matter most to God and to us).
“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” Luke 14:28
Developing your own priorities is a highly-disciplined and effective way to live intentionally every day. Remember, though, that only through the full grace of Jesus Christ is this possible. May you experience a life well-worth living while producing a bounty of fruit!
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