Priorities! How do you set your priorities? What comes first in your life? Of all the things that you do, what matters the most? Determining our priorities can be an illusive and difficult task, especially for people like me who are not wired to think like that.
I think most people do things without really thinking about their priorities. It is not that we do not have them rather we have not identified or defined them. We must remember, just because we have not identified them does not mean they do not control our lives! They do! Every single decision we make is determined by our priorities – even down to the color of socks we put on in the morning, to the make and model of car we purchase.
Priorities stem out of our values. Sometimes values are called precepts or controlling principles. Regardless of what you call them, they represent your core beliefs. These convictions and core beliefs are the convictions you hold based on your experiences.
These values are the deeply engrained drivers behind all behavior. These includes decisions we make, money we spend, risks we take, problems we solve, and goals we set. These priorities control our lives!
In the journey of life, when values are poorly identified, it is easy to be distracted or detoured with a secondary or unimportant issue. Here is the key. Without clearly defined values, our priorities remain unclear; and without clear values life can easily spin out of control.
It is important to ask this simple question. What really matters to us?
As we strive for success in our job or career, our greatest fear should not be the fear of failure, but of succeeding at something that does not matter!
We must be certain our priorities are in line with God’s plan and purpose for our lives. Jesus taught His disciples about priorities in Matthew 6:33. He said, “seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Shortly after saying this, Jesus warned them they could not serve two masters because they will hate one and cling (love) the other. “You cannot serve God and money (mammon)”
What reveals our priorities? I believe two things tell us what we value the most – our checkbook and our calendar! Our checkbook reveals what is important because we see where we spend our money. Our calendar reveals what we value in terms of how we spend our time.
Jesus told a parable about a rich farmer who had an exceptionally good year. He was in a dilemma about what to do with the excess harvest. His decision was to tear down the existing barns and build bigger ones. Jesus called this man a fool. He was foolish not because of his great vision for the future, but for his misplaced priorities! He could not see beyond the temporal things in his life.
Jesus summarized the parable saying, “A person is a fool to store up earthly wealthy but not have a rich relationship with God.” In the same passage he also said,
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also! (Matthew 6:19-21)
The Apostle Paul, the great missionary of the early church, said, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
What are your priorities today? What is shaping and driving your life today? I hope you will take a good long look at your priorities.