October 9, 2013
Setting Priorities, Part 3
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed, (Mark 1:35, NIV).
Friend to Friend
I’ve been pondering my priorities this month, so I thought I’d stop and make some very practical applications. (If you missed parts one and two, please visit our archives at www.girlfriendsinGod.com). These are things that God and I had a pow-wow about over 15 years ago, and He’s asking me to think about them again.
Dr. Kevin Leman, in his book, Bonders, noted, "Getting your priorities straight and sticking to them is one of the most difficult tasks in life.” I heartily agree. It is difficult.
And here’s something else to consider when setting priorities…they change. My priorities today are different than they were 15 years ago. My son is now a grown man. And while I love him to smacking pieces, mothering him is not in the same priority slot that it was 15 years ago. (I’m sure he would like for me to move it a little further down the list.)
So how do we do it? How do we set priorities and stick to them? Back in the 1990s there was an anti-drug campaign with the slogan, "Just say no"? I think that’s a great place to start.
Sometimes it’s hard to say “no.” People get mad at you. They may even say they are "disappointed" in you. (That's always a ticket to a guilt trip. I'd suggest you not go there.) Setting priorities and sticking to them requires much time in prayer, asking God exactly what He wants you to do and when He wants you to do it.
One day I was talking to an overwhelmed friend via email. She told me about how her life was spinning out of control as she served on several different committees at her children's school (the bazaar, the wrapping paper fund raiser, homecoming etc.), sang in the choir, taught Sunday school, participated on the pastor search committee, carted three children from one extracurricular event to the other, etc. The previous week, she had been out of the house every single night.
"Cynthia," I wrote, "I want you to write down everything you’ve done over the past two months. Then take that list and go into your prayer closet and pray. Ask God to show you what items on your list someone else could have done. Yes, I know, another person may not have done it as well as you, but that's okay. Place a mark on the list by things that only you could have done."
She told me she would do this, as soon as she found the time.
Women today are too busy being busy. And much of what we do has no eternal value.
One of my dear friends, Liz Curtis Higgs, taught me to ask the following questions before saying “yes” to a new task. These were particularly helpful when I was raising my son.
- Will this activity matter one week from today? One month? One year?
- Is there someone who does this task better than I do, to whom I might delegate?
- Does it satisfy a heart need for me or someone I love very much?
- What are the ramifications if I don't do it?
- What are the outcomes if I do?
Let me give you an example of how I used those questions in my life. One day a church called and asked me to speak to their women's group on "Giving the Gift of Encouragement." It was a dinner meeting, scheduled on February 4, my son's birthday. So I had to ask myself the questions.
- Will celebrating Steven's birthday at dinner matter one week from today? One month? One year? Yes, it would.
- Is there someone who could plan the celebration and make him feel special and loved better than I could? No, there's not.
- Does it satisfy a heart need for me to say no to the speaking engagement and celebrate his birthday instead? Yes, it does.
- What are the ramifications if I don't do it? If I don't speak to the women, they will get another speaker and be blessed by her. If I don't stay home and celebrate Steven's birthday, he may think ministry is more important to me than he is.
- What is the outcome if I do it? If I stay home, Steven will feel special and dearly loved.
After evaluating my priorities, I stayed home and gave the gift of encouragement to my son instead of to the women at the church. When turning down opportunities, sometimes they will swing back around at a later time. Sometimes they won't. The church didn’t call back. But guess what? My son did.
Dear Lord, help me to get my priorities straight. Show me when to say “yes” and when to say “no.” Help me to remember that “the need is not the call.” Help me not feel guilty when I say “no,” and confident when I say “yes.”
In Jesus’s Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Jesus had priorities! Read Mark 1:35-40 to discover the following:
How did Jesus determine his priorities for the day? What was he doing in v.35?
What did his friends want Him to do? Note where He had been the day before.
What was Jesus’ answer? What was His priority?
How did He know how to answer the disciples’ request?
Would it have been a “good” thing for Jesus to go back and heal more people?
Why didn’t He do that?
This was a real eye-opener for me. I hope you’ll ponder these verses today.
Hey, let’s ponder them together. Click over to my facebook page and join me by praying for our priorities. Simply leave a comment that says, “I’m praying for my priorities today!”
More from the Girlfriends
If you need a little help in the priorities department, Lysa TerKeurst and I wrote a book that might be just what you need. This is a toughie. That’s why it took two of us to write it! Check out A Woman’s Secret to a Balanced Life on my site, and while you’re there, sign up for my blog for more inspiration and encouragement.
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