Wednesday, August 11, 2010

day 207: priorities are what we do*

Probably the greatest hindrance to getting anything done in life is that of misplaced priorities. That is especially true in the case of family living and heart training of our children since those are often non-measurable, non-visual pursuits.

Everyone has priorities. Some have their priorities listed and checked off daily or weekly. Some prioritize by default. Their priorities are not planned, but they have priorities nonetheless--since priorities are what a person does.

If you were to pull out your daytimer, family calendar, or daily to-do lists, anyone could read them and give you a list of your priorities. You might argue about their observations. You might say, "No, that thing is not my priority. My priority is this...” Something loftier, more noble, or more similar to what you would like your priorities to be. However, if you do not do something consistently, it is not a priority; it is simply a wish. Because prioritities are what you do.

The same concept is revealed with your checkbook. You can say that certain things are the most important to you, but when you open your checkbook, the dearest things to you are revealed.

An eye-opening exercise for anyone is to evaluate--hour by hour, day by day--what you have done over the past month. How much time did you devote to corporate worship, God's Word, knowing Christ, prayer, praise, ministry, and discipleship? How much time did you watch television, play sports, surf the web, or read a novel? How much time did you spend with your spouse? How much time did you devote to training your children?

Break these activities down to determine how much of each waking day you spent on each one. The activities that you spent the greatest amount of time on are your priorities. If you watched television and movies for twelve hours this week and spent three hours discipling your young adults, then your priority is entertainment--not training (at least for that week).

From my list of activities, I can tell what my true priorities are. I might think my priorities are God; my husband; my children; homeschooling; saving time; being organized; my extended family; keeping my children involved in meaningful activities (those that teach them to become organized, study, love learning, develop their own priorities, and be close to the Lord); building relationships; releasing of our teens and young adults slowly while discipling and mentoring them; and family ministries. However, if my calendar does not show the majority of my time being used in those pursuits, then they are not my priorities. They are simply my wishes--my hopes and dreams of what I want to do, but not what I actually do.

*Note: For several days, I will be excerpting material from our parenting book, “The Well-Trained Heart” about prioritizing. Following these posts, we will delve more deeply into organizing.

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