The Myth of Priorities

Greg McKeown states in his book Essentialism that “the word priority came into the English language in the 1400s. It was singular. It meant the very first or prior thing. It stayed singular for the next five hundred years. Only in the 1900s did we pluralize the term and start talking about priorities. Illogically, we reasoned that by changing the word we could bend reality. Somehow we would now be able to have multiple ‘first’ things.” (p.16)

When I wrote down my priorities before I read those 6 simple sentences above, it read more like a task list for my week. I love being a big picture guy and was haunted on how narrow the focus of my list of priorities made me. All these things are important, they include providing for my family, exercise, growing and supporting the ministry, and prayer. The part that got me is how independent all these pieces were. What would it look like if I had all my activities connected and pushing in the same direction? I would be transformed and my life would be rich with meaning.

Make no mistake. You either have one priority or you have no priority.

What is truly important for ministry leaders? What is your priority?

I am blessed to work at a place where a key group of leaders have made it clear that their purpose, their priority is to get people to heaven. It’s not a mission statement, but rather a statement of purpose that falls under our organization’s broader mission statement. What is your priority as a ministry leader? What is it as a member of your family? Or as a child of God?

Take a moment to look at your calendar. Our priority is clearly reflected in the way we spend and invest our time. Have you given adequate time to what you put first? Is it supported by prayer and study? Where do your personal needs fit into the mix? Is your life ordered in a way that points to this first thing?

Often times ministry leaders push themselves to the limit for others, but forget to dive into the same love they seek to allow others to encounter. I challenge you today to take 5 minutes and ask God what His priority is for you. Not just for this day, but the big picture question. You don’t have to have an answer right away as God’s Will tends to beautiful unfold as we journey toward it. Clear your schedule for a few minutes, find a place with a view and dream with God a bit about what should be first in your life.

I am tempted here to write about how to push other things out and how to set up a solid defense around the priority God has for you. But something powerful happens when you passionately connect with the deeper purpose behind everything you do. Some things may naturally find themselves moved off your task list as they don’t fit with the priority of your life or ministry. Other things may take on new life when you realize that they play an intimate part of that one thing. Dream with God and see where it takes you. Then go there.

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