Ranking Your Priorities

I’ve been thinking about priorities lately, and since I spoke to some college girls about the topic, I thought I’d go ahead a whip up a little Femina post about it.

When we try to navigate through the many things we each have to do and the many decisions we have to make, we need to have some kind of thoughtful grid in place to help us make wise choices about how we spend our time. Keeping priorities is not some wooden thing that we just enforce on our schedule in an external way, but is rather a perspective that requires ongoing wisdom, discernment, and self-discipline.

For the Christian woman, whatever her age, her first priority is obviously to love and serve God. That means living like a consistent Christian, staying anchored to the Word, worshiping each Lord’s Day, and being a woman of faith and prayer. This helps keep us centered on the important things.We don’t make commitments that would take us away from regular worship, and we don’t quit reading our Bibles because we have so much other reading to do for school.

Secondly, we are women. This means we are wives or daughters or mothers, so we have obligations related to these family ties. Daughters must consider their relationship to their parents, keeping connected and continuing to honor them, even while they’re off at college. Wives have husbands to help, and that help must stay on the top of the pile and not get shoved to the bottom. Mothers of  little ones are needed in countless pressing ways, day in and day out. They have to sort out all their other duties in light of the immediate needs of the children, and this is no easy task.

Third, many have a calling as students or employees. This is not your first priority, but your third one, coming after your duties as a Christian and as a woman. This means you are faithful as students or workers, fulfilling your obligations and commitments, being on time, getting the job done, and so forth. And the first and second priorities help  keep this one in perspective. We are not to sacrifice #1 or #2 for the sake of #3. In other words, if you have to compromise your faith in order to ace the class, then it would be better to flunk the class. If you have to lie to keep your job, then it would be better to lose the job.

Finally, believe it or not, our last priority is our free time. (Mothers of little ones, I know you are laughing at the thought of how to manage your “free time”!) But students in particular need to exercise wisdom here. College girls, are you spending your free time hanging out with the wrong people or watching movies that are a waste of time? If you opt to watch a movie instead of write the paper due on Friday, then you are getting your priorities out of whack. Get the work done, then relax. And make sure your entertainments are refreshing and delightful, providing the relaxation you need rather than the kind that you need to confess to God after the fact. That goes back to priority #1. You are a Christian. Your entertainments should be the kind that God is pleased to see you enjoying.

When things come up, and they always do, keep this basic hierarchy in mind. It will help you make wise choices and protect you from getting your schedule all catawampus.

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17 thoughts on “Ranking Your Priorities

  1. Thank you so much for these encouraging words, both to my daughter (who is in your Bible study group) and to me (who, even now, needs to be reminded).

  2. What a timely post as the kids just went back to school today! And volleyball season is in high gear…and life just gets hectic :-)

  3. Where does the priority of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ fit in? I know I need to worship with the saints every Lord’s Day, but where do ladies bible studies, or simply getting together with a good friend for fellowship fall into the equation?

  4. Jessica, I would put our fellowship with the saints in all four categories. It is an important part of Christian living, it is certainly consistent with our calling as family members in the body of Christ, and though it may not be a central part of our “calling” in school or business, it should obviously be central in our relaxation and entertainment. That means it should pervade everything, but it should not displace anything. That is why all these things require wisdom. My article is far from exhaustive. There should be a place for ministering to the sick and helping the poor, but that I would have included in #1 with our calling as Christians. Bible study and fellowship help equip us to fulfill our duties in #2, #3, and #4!

  5. What a lovely, timely reminder. Thanks for posting – as a teacher, the new school year always is presents the challenge of keeping the first and second priorities at the top of my list.

  6. Thank you for your response Mrs. Wilson. “…it should pervade everything, but it should not displace anything.” I think I’ll be using that quote frequently in the days ahead. :)

  7. Nancy,

    I am a mom to five. Two we are in the process of adopting. The ages are: 17, 15, 11, 5 and 2. If you have walked with anyone through the adoption process, you know it can be a difficult road. Throw in meeting their personal needs (teenage down to toddler), academic needs(I homeschool four of them), spiritual…the needs of the home, my husband, my need to exercise daily (that I finally came to grips with as being an okay and necessary need) and I really don’t have time for much else.

    We serve on Sundays. My boys and husband help with set up and take down, soundbooth and one of them is part of worship team. My oldest daughter and I teach Sunday School once a month and I host the donut table once a month as well.

    Our church has a discipleship program that they would like me to do. It meets once a week for five months. At the end of the five months, they want me to lead a dicipleship group. So, basically it is year round.

    I am tossed. On one hand, I see the importance of discipleship. My life changed because a woman took me under hear wing for many years. I feel God has poured into me and I would love to pour out into other women. BUT, I am not sure I am in the right season for this. I don’t really know how I can run out my door one additional time each week.

    Like I stated, our entire family is serving. So, it’s not a matter of being lazy. I just don’t know where to draw the line.

    I’m curious what kind of advice you would give one of your daughters if she had the same circumstances.

    Tami

  8. Tami, I’m not as wise as Nancy, but I’ll pass on a tidbit I got from a friend: A need does not constitute a calling. Sounds like you hit the nail on the head when you questioned whether you are in the right season. Also, what does your husband think? If he has clear direction to offer, that sure makes the decision easier! 😉

  9. Thanks Valerie,

    I agree, “A need does not consitute a calling”. There are many ministries over the years that I have had to say no to. I guess I am struggling with this one because of the impact that discipleship had on me. It is an area of ministry that I feel is lacking in most churches. It’s something I would enjoy. But, I already feel stretched thin. My husband would support me either way. I am feeling like it isn’t the season.

    Thanks again

  10. Tami,
    I amen Valerie’s suggestions. Your husband’s take on it is very important. I am sometimes too eager to volunteer for things, and my husband wisely encourages me to think it through carefully first. Though some women can handle what look like tremendous loads, I definitely have a limit. And if I am carrying too much, things start falling off the plate. Though discipleship is a wonderful thing, if it means you can’t disciple your own kids, then it’s not helpful in the long run.

  11. Nancy,

    I really appreciate your input and it’s nice to know that you too feel like you have a limit. Goodness, some women just amaze me! I am not Superwoman, although I wish I were. This is going to be a tough one. I asked my husband and he is leaving it up to me. Not because he doesn’t lead, but because he feels it could be beneficial, if I am feeling up to it. Really, it won’t take up much time in my day, but it will be one more thing to run out my doors to. Thanks, Tami

  12. Thank you Nancy. This certainly simplifies it for me. I was reading a bit of “Shopping for Time” and while it is a great book, was having a hard time relating as I don’t shop well. My husband gets better deals, even at the grocery store so we often shop together or he goes alone. I know a “great”(you know, the flip flops for $1) buy when I see one but figuring out a ‘good’ vs ‘better’ deal is hard for me. I have started praying and writing lists (well at least in my head) to help me prioritize and see where I am lacking.

  13. Thank you for this timely reminder! It is easy to forget which order things belong in when there is so much going on. Ben and I had a helpful chat about what the practical application would look like in our home shortly after we had our second kiddo. It has been especially helpful for me to know that he prefers to come home to a happy family and take out rather then a spotless home and a homemade meal on days when it comes to that! :-)

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