What are your top priorities in life?
If you ask any married person who also claims to be a Christ-follower "What are your top priorities?" you'll probably get a variation something close to this:
God first Family second Others third Me last
After all, we've been taught well. We can probably paraphrase Philippians 2:3-4 in some form- "consider others as more important than yourself." We know the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
In a recent post, I quoted the poem As the Ruin Falls by C.S. Lewis. It's basically an admission of incredible selfishness, tempered by one thing: love. As Lewis states in a very "no bones" sort of way,
"I never had a selfless thought since I was born."
He goes on to say that even his attempts at love are usually selfishly motivated. And, I must say, that's true with me more often than I care to admit.
Priorities, how do you live them out?
So how DOES one actually live out the priorities they say are important to them?
I'm a visual learner. So I relate well to word pictures. A mentor once gave me a couple of word pictures that really helped me start down the path of living out the priorities that I say are important to me.
Picture 1: A puzzle. With pictures of my wife, children, church, Jesus, family, work, exercise, hobbies, etc. All laid out in random order each day, ready for me to put back together in a way that looks good, feels right. Each puzzle piece is exactly the same shape - so each piece is interchangeable.
Picture 2: A group of dominoes. With those same pictures on each one. Stacked neatly, one on top of the other, with those things I say are most important on top.
For the first half of my marriage, the picture that more closely identified my life would have to be the puzzle. In any given moment, I would re-arrange the puzzle to meet my desires. Maybe God would seem most important on Sunday morning, but by Sunday afternoon a hobby might be more appealing. Maybe my relationship with my wife would be most important to me on Friday night, but on Saturday exercise would come first. Maybe the kids needed my attention on Tuesday night, but on Wednesday it was all work mode! Get the picture?
During the second half of my marriage, I would say that the picture of my life has more resembled the stack of dominoes. I've learned that it's important not to just say that I had my priorities in order, but to actually stack those priorities, and then work to keep the stack in order. Hobbies always take a back seat to family. Others always take second chair to my wife. Work is good and ordained by God, but my relationship with God is still priority over work (even if I'm working for Him).
Right Perspective Changes Everything
Do I get it right all the time? Nope. I'm still selfish and short-sighted. But just having the proper image - the right perspective - has helped me immensely. And it's also a lot easier to admit I'm wrong when I do get things out of order.
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