Finding Peace under Pressure
- Wednesday, August 02, 2006
We’re living in a “right now” world. Every day we face pressure, stress, and multiple demands. We have no peace because we’re being pulled in every direction with no time to stop and evaluate objectively where we’re going. We end up living from moment to moment, week to week, paycheck to paycheck. We live by the seat of our pants. We wing it. And we hope it’ll work out okay.
But my concern is, living the way we live, where are we going to end up 10, 15, or 20 years from now? In the short term, we can run the rat race. We can live at a frantic pace and try to experience and accomplish everything right now. But in the long term, that’s devastating. If we allow ourselves to be pulled in every direction by life’s demands, ultimately we will get nowhere.
I want much better for you. I want you to end well. I want you to finish as God intended you to finish. I want your visions to become reality in your life. I want you to have a plan and a clear list of priorities about how to say yes to this and no to that, for it’s the people who can say no to the good and yes to the best who finish well.
How do you balance life’s demands?
First, let’s look at biblical priorities. I wish I could tell you there was a book in the Bible called First Priorities, but it’s just not there. Instead, we will glean them out of what are called the Twin Epistles - Colossians and Ephesians - which were written about the same time.
Ephesians was written to instruct the church how we’re supposed to live our new life in Christ in a fallen, pressure-packed world. The first three chapters are doctrine; the last three are practical. Colossians was written to explain the preeminence of Christ and what it looks like to live out His prominence in every aspect of our lives. Again, the first chapters are doctrine, the last are practical. Note that after the clear doctrinal teaching, both books apply that truth to our lives in a very systematic manner, beginning with a relationship to God and then moving to relationships with others. I believe that’s a divine design.
But there’s something I want you to consider. Often we hear that we should put God first, family second, and so on. But life simply doesn’t work that way. We can’t live a “linear” life. You can’t say, “I’m not going to talk to my wife until I talk with God, and I won’t to talk to my kids until I’ve talked with my wife.” There may be days when you need to spend 15 hours at work and not even see your family, or vice versa.
Instead, I believe we need to view these priorities as concentric circles, one depending on the other. The idea is that you need to be fully connected in your relationship with God so that out of that relationship will flow the love and energy to give to your mate. Then your rich, loving relationship with your mate will overflow into your children, the marketplace, your ministry, and so on.
If we fully cultivate and enrich a relationship with God, then each of the other concentric circles will benefit from the overflow of that relationship. That’s what biblical priorities are all about.
But that takes time and effort. I can’t give you a formula. I don’t know how much time you need with God, or with your spouse and your family. You need to determine that for yourself. But I can tell you the place to begin. We all have 168 hours per week, and if you don’t take control of your time, you’ll never have control of your priorities.
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