Friday, September 24, 2010

Priority Me

I feel really bad about how I prioritize lately. I have been more careful not to over-extend myself into too many things. That in itself is a very tough thing for me to do. I really am a firm believer in the idea of trying to do everything and work hard to get good at everything. This belief lead me to think I can do anything at least well enough to fill a gap or need. Clearly in "church work" this means I usually would do whatever job came up and do it gladly. Does that sound bad? Nope, which is why I feel so bad about the current state of my priorities where I am saying no to most of those things.

If it weren't already clear enough that I needed to be more careful with my time/priorities, twice in the last week I have seen the exact same illustration regarding priorities. The picture is simple. You take an empty jar that represents your capacity to do stuff. Then you have little rocks that represent all the things you do that aren't important/critical and big rocks that are the important things you do. If you fill the jar with a bunch of little rocks, you won't have room for all of the big ones. On the flip side though, if you start with the big rocks, you will have room for all the little ones to fit into the "spaces" in the jar. So the question becomes how do I define a big rock and a little rock.

I don't really have an answer for that just yet. I think the answer is, as the author of Ecclesiastes indicates big rocks should always be about what is good for the Kingdom of God. In truth, in my heart I KNOW that is the answer. However, my socially influenced brain will not allow me to make that real in my life just yet. I still am tied to playing by cultural rules that say my kids need to be at all their activities, my family needs that vacation, I need to sustain my money-making job so I can pay for college, retirement and whatever else. I think when Jesus says not to worry about what we eat, drink or wear He really means work to make those things smaller rocks in our jar. Interesting that Jesus points to real necessities to make that point; even what we truly need should be small rocks. This is because Jesus knows the big rock truth: God is the big rock and if we put that rock first then everything else will fall into place.

This means I have to really keep God first in all things. That sounds easy enough. But I think we can all freely admit we don't do it. I know dang well I don't. Not only would my time and priorities be much easier to deal with, but I think this focus would also change how I view others. It would lead me to truly think of others more highly than myself. I would finally be in line with the Biblical ideal of considering others needs more important than my own. That is a big rock view. I think it is rather well phrased, though in older English by GS Merriam, so I will leave it with that:

"With his first waking consciousness, he can set himself to take a serious, manly view of the day before him. He ought to know pretty well on what lines his difficulty is likely to come, whether in being irritable, or domineering, or sharp in his bargains, or self-absorbed, or whatever it be; and now, in this quiet hour, he can take a good, full look at his enemy, and make up his mind to beat him. It is a good time, too, for giving his thoughts a range quite beyond himself,—beyond even his own moral struggles,—a good time, there in the stillness, for going into the realm of other lives. His wife,—what needs has she for help, for sympathy, that he can meet? His children,—how can he make the day sweeter to them? This acquaintance, who is having a hard time; this friend, who dropped a word to you yesterday that you hardly noticed in your hurry, but that comes up to you now, revealing in him some finer trait, some deeper hunger, than you had guessed before,—now you can think these things over."