• Clarence L. Haynes. Jr.

The 4 Most Important Priorities in Life.

Updated: Feb 4, 2019

Let’s face it, you have a lot to do. Between the responsibilities of home, work, family, church there is a lot on your plate. In our ever connected world it also seems like we can never shut off. How many of you remember the days when TV actually went off at night? You had the national anthem and then a fuzzy screen and no TV until the next morning. If you are under 30 and reading this article you probably have absolutely no idea what I am talking about.

Today we are not only connected to our cell phones we can now get all of our emails and text messages on our wrist. It used to be that New York was called the city that never sleeps now it seems like that is everywhere. So with this ever connected society we live in, where we never shut off, how do you prioritize your life? I believe there are 4 critical areas of life that you have to get right and the reality is many people get these wrong.

To help you today I will go over them with you in the order I believe they should be. I will give you the order now and you can read the reasons why below. The correct order is God, Family, Career, Ministry.

1. God – The most important relationship you have in your life is your relationship with God through Jesus Christ. This seems obvious but when you think about it the whole point of having a Christ-centered life is that everything in your life flows out of your walk with Christ. This is something that you have to fight for because everything in your life will fight for this number one position. In Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 God establishes this principal stating very clearly, “You shall not have no other gods before me”. In other words, He has to have the number one position.

The challenge is that everything in your life has the potential to be an idol and push God out of this spot. You have to make a conscious decision to keep God first and Christ at the center and you have to fight daily to make sure it stays that way. There are always going to be challengers to this throne and you are charged with defending it.

2. Family – After your walk with God the next most important relationship you have is your family. I do want to clarify that by family I am not talking about Cousin Ray Ray or Uncle Fred who you only see every 3 years at the family reunion. By family I am referring to the people that you are immediately responsible and accountable for. This means your spouse (if you are married) and your children if you have them. I am in no way diminishing the roles that parents, siblings and extended family play in your life because those are important relationships and should be valued, however when you have to list the hierarchy of priority spouse and children come first.

In Genesis 2:24 God says “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” When you look in Ephesians 5 and 6 in the conversation about serving and family Paul addresses the relationship between husbands and wives and parents and children. If you look into the scriptures, Paul never directly addresses the relationship between siblings, extended family or adults with their parents. In Ephesians 6:1, Paul writes, Children obey your parents in the Lord…. Clearly Paul is referring to younger children and not adults.

The reality is after your relationship with God your relationship with your spouse is the next most important relationship. In fact, this relationship is the only one that we have that is compared to the relationship between Christ and the church and that is why it is in this place of priority. However, if you are not married but you have children then they become your top priority.

If you fall into the category of people who are not married or who have no children then continue to recognize the importance and value of your family relationships just be prepared to shift the priorities should your situation change.

3. Career – I believe that many Christians don’t put the right value on career that they should. I believe that unless you are involved in full time ministry, meaning that is your sole means of financial support, than your career is your full time ministry.

This goes back to what I mentioned in the family section about those who you are immediately accountable and responsible for. How can you care for a spouse, kids or even yourself if you have no means of financial support? Where do you get financial support or income? From your job or career. This however is not why you should view your career as ministry. This is just one major reason why it’s important. The main reason why you need to see your career as ministry is because of what Jesus said in Matthew 5:14-16.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

God has saved you and has lit you up so that you can go out and shine. If you turn on a flashlight in an already lit room it has very little effect and may not even be noticed. However, if you turn it on in a dark room it has great impact and chances are everyone will see it. Let me ask you, where do you think God wants you to shine?

For most of us we spend 40-50 hours every week surrounded by people who are in spiritual darkness. This is the perfect opportunity for us to shine light and impact people with our lives. This doesn’t mean that you go around the office leaving tracts everywhere or proclaiming the good news of the kingdom as a voice in the wilderness. It does mean that according to Matthew that you allow people to see your good works, which includes your work ethic, being on time, how you treat people, how you respond to your boss or how you manage others. All of these are opportunities to shine light and create opportunities to share the love of Jesus that has been shed abroad in your heart. Yes your kindness and gentleness can win people to Christ.

You need to recognize that God has strategically placed you where you are so that you can shine light there. Have you ever thought that you might be the only testimony for Christ that some people on your job may ever see? They may never step foot in a church, but they can still experience the light and love of Christ because you are on the scene.

4. Ministry – When I first had this conversation some people were surprised that I put ministry last. Part of the reason is described above because your career is your ministry. The other reason is because many have fallen victim into believing that unless you are doing something within the four walls of the church it is not ministry. I want to challenge your thinking about ministry.

When it comes to serving in ministry you never serve according to how much the need is you serve according to how much you are able to give. I know this is heresy in many churches but let me give you an example using money. Let’s say the church is trying to raise $1000 and you are able to give $10. What have you done? You saw the need and gave what you were able to give. The same thing is true with your time.

They may need someone to serve every Sunday, but you can only serve one because of God, family, career or maybe all three. Then you should give that one Sunday and give yourself fully to serving that Sunday. What tends to happen is that many people will try to give more than they are able and either burn out in the process or mess up their priorities. I have personally seen people miss time from work, take away time from family and even neglect their relationship with God all because they are engaged in “ministry”.

Let me say that I believe strongly in supporting the ministry of the local church. In fact, I have always served in ministry in some capacity at every church I have ever attended. I believe you should always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord as Paul encourages us in 1 Corinthians 15:58. My point is that you should never sacrifice your walk with God, your spouse, your children, or your career on the altar of “ministry”. If you do, then your priorities are out of order.

God has saved you, gifted you and called you to impact every place you go. This means inside the church and outside the church. Chances are the greatest impact you will have in this life and for eternity is not by what you do on Sunday morning. It will come by what you do from Monday to Saturday.

The extra moment you spend listening to a co-worker. The conversation you have with your neighbor. Showing up at your child’s school play. Having a date night with your spouse. It is these simple things that often get overlooked in our greater need to pursue “ministry” that can have the greatest and eternal impact on the lives of those around us.

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