What’s your number-one priority—your one big thing? What’s the great goal of your life, and more specific yet, which of today’s priorities aim toward that purpose?
A while ago, I gave up the juggling performance. I don’t order my life according to a priority list anymore. There is only one priority, and everything else in my life basically contributes to that one goal: JESUS.
I don’t mean I don’t keep track of activities on a calendar (or phone, as the case may be). I don’t mean I don’t make plans or list tasks I must complete. (Heaven knows, sometimes I can’t even remember what I went into the next room for.)
But I no longer try to put things in order of importance—to me or to somebody else. Remember when there was a secret ranking system in the Christian universe? All excellent quips to help us prioritize our lives:
- “Jesus and Others and You spells JOY.”
- “If God has first place, everything else will fall into place.”
- “#1 – God, #2 – Family, #3…” What came next? That’s where the debates began.
Should we divide Family, and put Marriage before Children? Or does Church/Ministry come next to God and before Family? And if that’s so, then where does Work fit in, especially if your Work is essentially Ministry? And isn’t Family a Ministry too? Or what if you work at Home?
I have a headache already. Oh, and that reminds me… Where do Rest and Health come in on the priority list? Like the oxygen masks on the plane, how can I aid anyone else, if I don’t first pull myself together?
Droplet Gift #15: I will focus on one and only one priority.
Isn’t that the meaning of “priority”? First place. The one thing. If there’s more than one priority, nothing is really a priority. Scrap the list, Martha.
You recall the Bible story, right? Practical Martha rushed about the kitchen, while her sister Mary reclined at Jesus’ feet, enjoying the conversation. Martha was peeved. But Jesus gently rebuked her: “…Only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).
According to Jesus, we have only one need. Many times what we think we need isn’t our real need. I don’t necessarily need more time, more money, more vacation, more support around the house, or more understanding from my family. I do need the Lord Jesus and His people.
Here in Chile, we joke that it’s against the law for anything to be too simple. But it really isn’t that complicated—I only have one priority.
“What is the chief end of man?” asks the Westminster Shorter Catechism. The famous response is, “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”
What, then, is the final purpose of our lives? That one thing we should aim to do is not serve the Lord, suffer for Jesus, teach Sunday school, please people, obey the law, or be kind to our neighbors. All perfectly good things, by the way, but to glorify and enjoy God is the one goal that supersedes everything else.
The heroes of the faith knew they had to look ahead, not behind, and above, not around them. The Apostle Paul wrote out his one goal like this: “…But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
God’s promise of an inheritance, a prize that’s worth the trouble, is Jesus Himself and enjoying Him forever. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been a little suspicious of that word “enjoy.” Sounds too much like fun. Seriously, doesn’t “enjoy” hint at partying and reveling to you? And “winning the prize” sure sounds like a motive for celebration in my book.
“The only thing that matters now is what will matter then (in eternity).” –Paul Johnson
The psalmist David also shared his one priority in a prayer: “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple” (Psalm 27:4).
His one desire zeroed in on asking simply to spend time with the Lord. To dwell (live, inhabit) in His house, His presence, every single day of his life. To gaze (contemplate, meditate) on our beautiful Lord. To seek (adore, pursue) Him. If we could have one desire granted, how many people would mention David’s prayer—and mean it?
Most of us, to be honest, might not consider getting close to God a pleasurable pursuit, much less a relaxing of rigid rules. But if I release the list of obligations—both self-imposed and levied by others—and narrow my focus to one priority, Jesus, then choices become easier. If I’m frustrated and frantic, then I’m trying too hard to nail everything right.
Does that sound too simple? Remember it’s not illegal to downsize. Why complicate things? While it may not be effortless, my one need is Jesus. My best reward is Jesus. My top love is Jesus.
In my latest book, Anchor at Alcázar Reef, Pastor Tony Marlowe counsels Valeria Serrano and her fiancé not to substitute their relationship with one another for their relationship with God. We don’t have to juggle Marriage and Ministry, Work and Family, because it’s ALL about only one priority. To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
Lord, don’t take me home…until I reduce my to-do list to prioritize You.