“It all started with THE LIST!”
We learned about prioritizing early in our marriage, and I am forever grateful that we did. Twenty-three years ago, Ray and I (at ages twenty-four and twenty) had a two year old little boy. We were active in our church and with our extended families. We wanted to "do it all" for the Lord and for others. However, we found ourselves, even with only one child and at our young ages, so busy that we could not keep up.
One evening, frustrated with our schedule, we sat down with the calendar and wrote on it everything we felt that we should do or participate in during that month: men's Bible study, ladies' Bible study, Ray's extended family, my extended family, Ray's master's degree, church three times a week, home care groups, hospitality, family night, nursing home visitation, church outreach, etc.
This full calendar page has become known to us through the years as "the list." When we were finished, we discovered that if we did everything we thought we should do, everything we wanted to do, and everything we had to do, we would need sixty evenings that month!
Life was controlling us, rather than us controlling life. How many of us feel this way today? We find ourselves doing things that are not really our priorities (or things that we do not desire as our priorities) and not doing the things that we really want as our priorities.
This is not a new concept. Paul said this very thing in the Bible: "I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate" (Romans 7:15 RSV).1 This is an age-old problem that even one of Christ's strongest early followers felt.
At that point, we decided that something had to go. We obviously did not have sixty evenings a month to do that list. We decided to take action. We had our first "priority purge."
Prioritizing takes action! It is something you do--or else it is done for you. Ray and I had to take GOOD things off of our calendar in order to make room for the BEST things. We had to say no to average things in order to say yes to excellent things.
That is another important concept in prioritizing: each person's priorities are his own. We do not need to have identical priorities to our friends. We do not need to do everything someone else does. Our priorities are personal; they are the God-ordained objectives in our own lives for that time period.
If you want to have solid, Christ-honoring priorities, you must take action. You must determine, with your spouse and with God's guidance, what your priorities are. This is the tricky part; everything seems important. Everything is crying out for attention and help. How do we know what should be priorities in our lives? How do we know what to spend our time on?
Join us tomorrow for another exciting episode of “Priority Purge” as we tackle…how to determine what are our own priorities need to be…. smile…
*Note: For several days, I will be excerpting material about prioritizing from our parenting book, “The Well-Trained Heart." Following these posts, we will delve more deeply into organizing.