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Getting Life's Priorities Right

by Greg Baker  
4/23/2010 / Christian Living

I am going to ask you to participate in figuring out your priorities and the proper means to set them. If you'll do this with me, this article can help you understand your priorities better.

First, make a list, in order, of everything that is important to you. Start with what you feel like is your greatest priority and list them in order of importance. Your list may look something like this:

1. God
2. Wife / Husband
3. Children
4. Job
5. And so forth

Got your list? Good. Now, let me make some statements about your list that hopefully will get you to rethink your priorities.

1. The main problem with your list is that only one thing can ever be #1 in your life. This is not wise. No matter what you put at the top of your list you are now obligated to stop doing the others in favor of whatever is #1.

2. If you focus on whatever is #2, then you are saying that #1 is now less important. This produces confusion in your mind. After all, if #1 is more important than #2, then why didn't you stay at #1? Some of you may know where I am headed with this by now. Good.

3. A priority list is impractical. There will be times when your children need to come first in your life and times when your spouse needs to be first. Obviously, for me, there will be times when God needs to be first. But having a list doesn't do justice to the priorities in your life.

Now, I'd like you to throw away that first list and we're going to make two new ones. Title one list 'Important' and the other list 'Urgent'.

Place everything that you are unwilling to live without on the Important List. Things like spouse, children, God, work, and so forth would go on this list.

Place everything that you'd like to do or have on the Urgent List if you had the chance to do or have them.

Priorities aren't about what is more important and what is less important. The truth is everything on your Important List is important. They are things that you aren't willing to live without. And at some point, each one takes precedent over the other.

Things are important if you can name when and where you focus on it. You always find time to do what is most important to you. In other words, you schedule time for it. If you never schedule any time for your family, then your family isn't that important to you. If you never schedule time to go to work, then your job isn't that important to you.

Everything on my Important List is scheduled into my life. Things on my Urgent List I get around to do when things on my Important List aren't a priority or scheduled.

For me, a Pastor of a Church and a devote Christian, God isn't even on my Important List. Everything that I do, I bring God into. Work, family, marriage, recreation, counseling, and so forth, I include God into all of it. I don't actually put God above my wife. But God is always present when I focus on her and give her my attention. My wife doesn't feel second to God, for when I spend time with her I make her the most important thing in my world at that moment. God is present in how I spend that time with her, however, but my wife never feels cheated.

And that is the key, whatever you are doing right now needs to be the most important thing that you are doing. When I spend time with my children, I try to make them feel that at that moment they are the most important thing in my life. It's not an issue of what is more important. I make each area the most important thing in my life when I am focused on it.

Nothing is short changed this way. My wife doesn't feel second to my children, and my children don't feel second to my wife. The Church doesn't feel second to my family and my family doesn't feel second to the Church.

Schedule everything that is on your Important List into your daily life. Then, when it is time to give it your undivided attention, do so. Everything else is set aside for what you have scheduled. It becomes the most important thing in your life.

I schedule a time to write these articles. And as I write them, you and this article are the most important thing in my life. I don't want to short change either you or this article. But soon, I'll set this aside and play with my kids. At that point, you and this article won't be the most important thing in my life. And honest truth is this article writing is actually on my Urgent List, not my Important List. But I've found time that doesn't interfere with the Important things in my life and thus you are now the most important thing in my life. Soon, it will be my children.

Priorities in life aren't complicated if you treat each thing that you focus on as the most important thing in your life when it requires your attention. But if you don't schedule time for it, then how can you say it is important?

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