No, really. REPEATEDLY.
In several ways and through several people I've been reminded recently that there are priorities in life that need to take precedence over other things.
While on the surface the concept doesn't sound so difficult, I guess there's something I'm missing, because it seems every time I've turned around for the last several weeks I have seen or heard someone or something that reminded me to consider the priorities of my life.
Now, I consider myself a pretty "together" kind of guy, so maybe I didn't give my answer the attention it deserved, but I did look at my calendar and say, "Yes, God, I'm listening... The things I'm doing indicate a desire to be effective at home and in the ministry. I've think I've got it!"
However, within a week or two, I was reminded again about the need to consider things in my life that are truly important. What gets the most of my attention and resource? So I look at my checkbook and debit receipts: "See Lord, I'm listening. I know it's not perfect, but I genuinely want the way I handle resources to reflect my love for you and my commitment to serve in the roles You have given me. I think we're good here."
Then, as recently as yesterday, I'm sitting in our general staff meeting when a colleague shares as part of our weekly devotion the story of an object lesson in which a speaker fills a jar, first with big rocks, then with gravel, then with sand and then with water. Each element represents something that requires our time or attention. It's not a story about how much you can get done, but rather it's a picture about ordering the things of life in such a way that the most important things get done first. I'd heard the story before. "Nothing new," I thought. But then it hit me... maybe I haven't been asking the right questions. I learned long ago, whenever God wants me to learn something He'll keep teaching it until I get the point.
"Okay, Lord, I'm starting over... Maybe this time I'll get it right"
And so, here I am today... re-starting a journey that I thought I'd already taken. As I ask myself the following questions I would encourage you to consider the same things about your own life. Be brutally honest and see what you learn about yourself. I assure you that I will. And as I work my way through the list of answers, I look forward to learning whatever it is God wants to show me about His will for my life and ministry.
"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good, acceptable and perfect." --Romans 12:1-2, ESV
I suspect I'm going to find that there are many more questions I've never asked myself, but my starting points are listed below. Whatever my journey turns out to be, I know that the most important thing in my life is to move forward in becoming the man He created me to be. I pray as you walk through this process in your own life that He'll show Himself to you clearly.
Here's where I begin...
- Who am I? Am I becoming the person God created me to be?
- Are the priorities I profess reflected on my calendar and in my checkbook?
- Where do I spend my time?
- Where do I spend my money?
- Where do I focus my attention?
- What is important to me?
- What would my wife say I hold as my greatest priority? What would my children say?
- How do I exhibit spiritual discipline in my life?
- Am I willing to take action to restructure my priorities according to the things God shows me through this process?
I'd be interested in your thoughts and the questions you are asking in your own journey with God. Feel free to share as the Lord leads.