I have had the idea to make a chapter on priorities for some time now, but I kept putting it off. I guess it wasn't really a priority. Then, yesterday something happened that caused me to decide to definitely do it. I was working on one of my internet pages and my goal was to finish it, and the phone rang and there was a message from the clinic for my wife about an appointment. I made a mental note to call her and continued with what I was doing. In the end, I completely forgot to call my wife and tell her about the appointment until it was too late. This caused me to realize the difference between goals and priorities. My goal was to finish working on my lens which could be seen also as part of a long-range goal to become a big giant squid (with 50 good lenses), but my priority should have been my wife, and if I would have realized my priority at the time it would have trumped my goal and I would have put the accomplishing of the goal aside for a few minutes and called my wife.
Goals can be based on priorities but not vice versa. Thus I'm including this Chapter, 2 Chapters before the one on goals. If you have your priorities clear it should help in setting your goals. Yet, priorities should always trump goals, even goals based upon priorities. Priorities should be listed in order of importance. Thus, even though my goal may have been based on a priority, the stronger priority of my wife should have trumped it. In my novel, “Of Such Is The Kingdom,” Barabbas had a goal of defeating the romans, but his first priority should have been his family. Instead he let his goal became his first priority also, although he fooled himself into thinking he was doing it for his family (as well as the rest of the world). Thus he thought he kept his first priority but the error of his thinking was soon revealed in his plan to sell his shop.
And, amazingly enough, by acting on the first priorities first, you should be able to complete all your goals sooner. It's like the old example of trying to fill a jar with water, sand, pebbles and big stones. If you start with the water, sand or pebbles, you'll never get the big stones in. But if you put the big stones in first, there is somehow room for everything else. So, first of all, figure out what your top priorities are and concentrate on them and everything else should fall into place.
As I mentioned above, priorities should be listed in order of importance. That is why they are called priorities (from the Latin “prior,” meaning former or superior). So get our a piece of paper and a pen or pencil and jot down the most important things in your life right now in order of importance and number them. These are your priorities. Did you include God? What about family? Your spouse? Your children? Other relatives? What about your finances? What about your friends? Did you include your job? What about your interests and hobbies? Get the idea? If you have a ministry where did you put it? Each person's list will be different--yours won't be the same as mine, so there's no need to show you mine. You must make your own list based on your own individual character, circumstances, and desires. One blogger suggested 4 top priories: health, relationships, career, and purpose and fun and satisfaction. But, for the Christian, God should be included and at the top or the center of the list. Jesus said we should seek first God's kingdom (Matt.6:33) One picture has God at the center of all other areas (all other areas branching out from a central point labeled "God.").
This is one possible way to do it. I put God at the top of my list, but I do rather like the idea of Him being at the center of the other areas as well. However you choose to list your priorities, they will still be yours and yours alone. No two individuals will have the same priorities, even though the lists may look somewhat alike. You and your friend may both start with God and then family at the top, but from there the list may differ. Also, keep in mind that priorities are subject to change.
What is the biblical basis for putting God first and your neighbor second?: Matthew 6:33 is a good start--"seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness." but what is the kingdom of God? In Romans 14:17, Paul tells us that it is not meat or drink, but is righteousness, joy, and peace in the holy spirit. In Matthew 22:37-39, Jesus quotes from the Old Testament, answering the question of what are the greatest commandments. He says the first is to love the Lord your God with all your heart mind and strength and the second is to love your neighbor as yourself. But who is your neighbor? Your neighbor is the person close to you, so naturally, it would be your spouse. Thus your spouse should be your first priority under god. But it goes further than that. According to Jesus, with the parable he told relating to this quote, your neighbor is anyone near you who may be in need. So it can be the person next door or down the street, or your friend. Depending on how you look at it ministry could fall into this category. In Revelation 2:4, Jesus criticizes the Church at Ephesus because they had left their first love. I think the word "first" here refers to first in priority as well as in time and thus would refer to their love for him and through him for others, which should have been their first priority.
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