A good friend and I were talking recently about how to prioritize. Sure, there are things that I would always say are my top priorities: God, husband, children…
But let’s get a little deeper. Yes, these are good and noble priorities. They are necessary priorities for my life to function well and for me to fulfill the various things (or vocations!) to which God has called me. But these broad, general terms offer no real direction for where I should focus my energy.
I want to serve God in the people He has put in my life. That’s my top priority for what I do. I read His Word to know His heart better, to know how best to serve others and to know more deeply the One who gave Himself for me. I pay attention to the needs of my husband and children, my friends and family, my neighbors and coworkers…looking for ways to serve them. I write the best I can, pray over every plot-line and story-arc and character growth plan…
But I have all these ideas. Ideas of new people and struggles, new aspects of Christian life to explore, problems to solve, stories to tell…What should I work on next?
How do I prioritize?
First, look at what’s before you. Whether it’s a creative endeavor, a project for work, household tasks to accomplish, or whatever it may be: What has God placed in your lap? Upon your heart?
Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time for everything. (side-note: if you’d like a beautiful, Christ-centered Bible study on the Ecclesiastes 3 in blog format, go here; my friend wrote it and it is a deeply poignant study of this passage, and so very applicable to all things life). Seasons where we focus on school, or jobs, or spouses, or children, or parents, or projects, or friends, or things, or places, or changes, or sameness….our priorities have to shift and change with the seasons of life, or we will be stuck in one place while life flows around us, and we miss some great things.
Example: about five or six years ago, I was in the middle of writing the first draft of Violet’s Daybreak, but once I finished it, I sensed that it was time to set aside the writing and focus more on my sweet little ones for a season. Not to set aside the writing permanently, or to not focus on my children now that I’m writing again. But they needed more of me than they do now. Now, they’re in school and are learning from their teachers, as well as from me. So I write while they’re at school.
Prioritize according to the season of life you are in.
Second, look at what needs to be done. Perhaps you have a houseful of young children who need your attention. Perhaps your church is lacking in Sunday School teachers, and while you’ve never taught before, you feel the Lord’s gentle prodding to step in and help. Perhaps a parent has suffered a setback to his or her health and needs your care for a season.
Remember, though: to everything there is a season. Seasons are transient. Nothing lasts forever but God. When I’m feeling stuck in a difficult place, this phrase is immensely comforting: this, too, shall pass. Nothing lasts, for better or for worse. So rejoice in the wonderful things requiring your priority-focus, and rejoice even in the midst of setting your priorities on the more unpleasant things. For they, too, shall pass.
Finally, look at your task and tackle it as for the Lord. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)