What Matters Most?

Priorities!  How do you set priorities?  What comes first in your life?  Of all the things you do, what matters most?  Determining our priorities can be an elusive and difficult task, especially for those of us who are not wired to think along those lines.  I believe most people do things without thinking about priorities.

It is not that we don’t have priorities, rather we have not identified or defined them.  Just because we do not know what they are, does not mean they do not control and direct our lives.  Decisions we make every day are determined by our priorities, even down to the color of socks we put on to the make and model of automobile we purchase.

Our priorities stem from our values.  Sometimes called precepts, principles, tenets, standards, or assumptions, values are your primary or core beliefs.  A core belief is a conviction or opinion you hold to be true based on limited evidence or proof.  Values are the deeply ingrained drivers behind our behavior. This includes the decisions made, money spent, risks taken, problems solved, goals set, and priorities determined.

In the journey of life, when values are poorly identified, it is easy to be distracted and detoured with secondary or unimportant issues..   Without clearly defined set of core values priorities remain unclear, and without clear priorities, life can easily spin out of control.

It is important therefore, to ask yourself this simple question, “What really matters to me?   As you strive for success in your job or career, remember, “Our greatest fear should not be the fear of failure, but of succeeding at something that really doesn’t matter.”  Be sure your priorities are in line with God’s plan and purpose for your life.

Jesus taught His disciples about priorities when He told them, “… seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”  (Matthew 6:33).  Jesus said this after he warned them they could not serve two masters because if you try you will end up hating one and loving the other.  “Man cannot serve God and Mammon (money).

Do you know what reveals your priorities more than anything else does?  Actually there are two things.  One is your calendar and the other is you check book.  Where you spend your money and your time indicates what you value and where you place your priorities.

Jesus told a parable about a rich landowner who had an exceptionally good growing season and was in a dilemma as to what he should do with the excess produce.  He decided to tear down the existing barns and build bigger ones.  Jesus called the man a fool.  His foolishness was not because he had such a great harvest, or building new barns was unwise.  He was a fool because of misplaced priorities.  He could not see beyond the temporal things of this life.  Jesus put it like this:  “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”  (Luke 12:21 NLT)

Jesus also warned,  “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.“  Matthew 6:19-21 (KJV)

Paul, the great missionary of the early church, said, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”   2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NASB)  (Underline mine)

What are your priorities?  Even if you cannot identify them, it does not mean you do not have them, or that they do not influence and direct your daily decisions.  They do!

Remember, our greatest fear should not be a fear of failure, but of succeeding at things that really don’t matter; and this happens when we fail to get our priorities right.

Published by Larry Doyle

Larry is the Director of Missions for the Piedmont Baptist Association. He has served overseas with the International Mission Board (SBC), in Charlotte NC as the Director of International Ministries, and as a pastor in North Carolina and Kentucky. He is married to Rebekah Hill, a native of Greensboro NC, and has two children and three grandchildren.

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