Are you one of those people who likes to go in 100 different directions at once? A person who has so many interests and wants to experience so many things that it is difficult for you to decide which direction you want to go. It is easy, in the onrush of life, to become a reactor – to respond to everything that comes up, the moment it comes up, and give it your undivided attention to it until the next thing comes along. We can have all the determination, discipline, motivation and inspiration we want, but if our efforts are scattered or misdirected, they will have little impact.
There are so many possible directions that we can take our lives, and without making conscious, and often difficult, decisions about what direction we will take, we can find ourselves on the default path of life, often overwhelmed and underachieving. But, once we closely examine our priorities and choose where we will expend the majority of our efforts, we will most certainly achieve the things that are most important to us.
Setting priorities is the process of determining what we value and what our values are, where we ultimately want to be and what sacrifices we are willing to make. It’s impossible to set priorities if we don’t know what really matters to us. Values can be imposed on us by others, our bosses, family members, friends, community groups, advertising, etc. But, unless we determine for ourselves what is really important, we will have difficulty maintaining the focus and discipline necessary to live a fulfilled life.
Although the Bible does not lay out a step-by-step plan for relationship priorities per se. We can look to the Scriptures and find general principles for prioritizing our relationships. God obviously comes first: Deuteronomy 6:5, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” All of one’s heart, soul, and strength is to be committed to loving God, making Him the first priority. If you are married, your spouse comes next. A married man is to love his wife as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25). Christ’s first priority—after obeying and glorifying the Father—was the church. Here is an example a husband should follow: God first, then his wife. In the same way, wives are to submit to their husbands “as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). The principle is that a woman’s husband is second only to God in her priorities.
Setting priorities always involves sacrifice, people don’t change their priorities do. Your time is limited. Things usually take longer than we think they will. So in order to get where we really want to go in life, we have to choose which roads we’re not going to travel. We need to decide which side trips and tourist traps will keep us from moving toward those priorities that are in line with our critical values. Determining our values is a personal activity that takes time and focus and a searching of one’s own heart. But, if we take the time to be thorough and clear about what we value, we can then begin to set priorities that will move us in the direction of something meaningful to us.
More often than not, if we find ourselves always trying to overcome some misunderstanding, a bump, or a misstep in our lives, it is because we have made something else more important than the things that we value. That something else might be a job, a TV series, a game, home maintenance, social life, family, etc. These may not be bad things, but what is important is that we consciously examine our priorities and decide what is important. If your family is more important to you than your career, then choose to put more effort into your family life and understand that your career may not be as successful as it might have otherwise been.
As you begin to determine your values, you may notice the most difficult part of defining them is not finding the values to include, but in determining which values to exclude. Setting priorities always involves sacrifice. Your time is limited there is never enough of it or the right time to do everything we want to do, however, there is always enough time to do the most important things, and to stay the course until we get them right.
It is your priorities that guide your attention and energy as you organize your daily, weekly or monthly schedule. Things usually take longer than we think they will. So in order to experience a full life and get to where we really want to go, that is to say where God would have you to be you have to choose which roads you are not going to travel. We need to decide which side trips and tourist traps will keep us from moving toward God and those priorities that are in line with His.