Life moves very quickly, and it is easy to feel like we cannot keep up at times…especially when the New York pace dictates your part of the world. Balancing schedules and making wise decisions are often very challenging in a busy world of diverse options, various pressures and ongoing problems. In order to avoid all of the distractions and attractions of this fallen world, and to keep ourselves from reacting to life’s mishaps, we must learn to prioritize our lives and to stop and assess whether what we are actually doing is what God is calling us to do.
So how do we prioritize our lives rightly in order to be faithful and productive in life and ministry?
First of all, you must care about pleasing the Lord in all areas of your life and desire to make the right choices regardless of how you feel. Your choices matter to God, and so His values should matter to you. Although every choice does not carry the same weight of consequence, your choices should always be governed by the values you hold. Your values determine your priorities.
However, your values alone will not always help you make the right choice in certain situations. For example, you may value time with your family and friends as well as working hard at school or work. Both are valuable in their own respect but must be prioritized when deciding which one to choose. You may want to sit down, relax or read when you remember an unfinished task that you have not followed through on. Which one should you choose? We all need wisdom to know which one should take priority at different points in our lives. This sometimes is referred to as “the tyranny of the urgent.” Therefore, we must seek to live according to all the values that God has shown us, while prioritizing which choice is best in different situations.
A priority is something that you give specific attention to or something that you regard as more important than something else at any given time. If our priorities reflect our values, then it is important to draw inspiration from the source of our values on a regular basis. As followers of Jesus Christ, the Bible gives us our primary source of values. Therefore, we would be wise to regularly read, heed, study and meditate on the Scriptures. The Chinese Christian worker, Watchman Nee, used to encourage his students to prioritize feeding on the Word of God by telling them, “No Bible, no breakfast.”
For Jesus, everything came down to whatever His Father commanded Him to say and do.
Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His Work” (John 4:34, NKJV). He also said, “For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak” (John 12:49). Listening to God and obeying His voice is the best way to know that your priority is the right one at the right time.
Therefore, we all need to spend quality time with the Lord in His Word and in prayer to keep our spiritual discernment strong, our minds renewed and our hearts revived.
Since life is often moving so quickly, our minds can feel overwhelmed unless our prayers are moving just as fast. When anxiety starts building up, we should treat it like a warning light on the dashboard of our hearts telling us it is time to check the oil of our spirit and get our prayer life going. As Paul the Apostle said, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NKJV).
In the classic book, The Practice of the Presence of God, it was said that Brother Lawrence, a 17th century French monk working in a monastery in Paris, made it a practice to do even the smallest of chores for the love of God. Whether he was praying or doing some janitorial duty, he thought, “It was a serious mistake to think of our prayer time being different from any other,” adding that, “Our actions should unite us with God when we are involved in our daily activities, just as our prayer unites us with Him in our quiet time.”
Furthermore, we must not create certain categorical ways of approaching life that are simply unwise and unhelpful. For example, we often think of priorities in terms of a progressive sequence: God, as our first priority, then family, then church, work or school, health, social time, recreation, etc. Although, this might sound like a good list, this kind of arrangement does not practically work when we try to live it out.
For how does one move from the God priority to another priority? The problem lies in thinking that we can make God a numerical value on our list of priorities. But God is NOT a number on a list! He is the one priority that makes the other priorities possible. He is basically the whole list itself.
We cannot simply put God into one of our idolatrous, religious boxes and merely check Him off as though we fulfilled our “God category,” allowing us to move onto the next priority of our list. Otherwise, what would that say about God being our top priority when most of us are spending more time on the other priorities that are under God on our lists?
The issue is not merely about how much time we spend with God alone but in how we cultivate our relationship with God and include God into everything that we say and do. God must not be a mere afterthought or someone who gets a little sliver of our lives. This is not authentic Christian living or the measure of a life that is devoted to God. Instead, we should make God THE PRIORITY WITHIN THE PRIORITIES. Christ Jesus should be the one Person that we do all of our other priorities for.
It is better to place Christ in the midst of each and every priority and to learn to glorify Him in all that we do.
We should prioritize God in our homes while we are spending time with our families. We should prioritize God at work by the way we act and conduct ourselves. We should prioritize God in our health by eating and resting well and taking care of our bodies, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit. We should prioritize God in our relationships by loving all people and treating them with the humility, kindness and compassion of Christ. There should never be a time when God is pushed aside or left out as a priority in our lives. “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
What would it actually look like if we did all things to the glory of God and prioritized loving God and loving others above our own patterns of priority?
When Jesus is truly our ongoing priority, we will not be living by mere methods or religious ruts but by the simplicity of obeying Christ in the Spirit of His love no matter what we are doing. This is why Paul said, “For to me, to live is Christ…” (Philippians 1:21).
If He is the Lord of lords and the King of kings, He is also the Priority of priorities!