September 15, 2014

Priorities.

Having recently reentered seminary, I have found myself reordering my life around a new set of deadlines - really, a new set of priorities. If you've ever begun anything new (or started back to something that's been absent in your life for a while), you'll know that it is hard work to get everything accomplished - especially at the beginning!

In recent weeks, I have found myself trying to shove my husband, job, schoolwork, friendships, Bible study time, and ministry opportunities into the tiny bag that is my life…until it was bursting at the seams! Getting it all in there is tough stuff. Picture this: it's like the carry-on suitcase that is too small to now zip up around the entire wardrobe you want to take with you on vaca. No matter how much you squish, tuck, fold, roll, cram, and sit on the case - it refuses to close. What's a girl to do?

Over the summer, our church has been studying Kevin DeYoung's book Crazy Busy. This read came at the right time for me, as it seeks to help believers understand the theology of rest (yes, that's actually a thing) as well as better prioritize the stresses of life.

Saying "no" is key to getting said rest...for the more you say "yes," the more you have to cram into the space of a day. Quite a while ago, I learned a phrase that has helped me tremendously with the tug to do more: 
A need is not a call

Does that make sense? Just because a need exists does not mean that you or I are the ones called to fill that need. 


Oh. Sweet. Freedom.


Now…that being said, we do not have to be "called" to do all things. The Spirit does not have to "call" us to the mundane tasks of life that are indeed worthy of doing. For example, I was not "called" to brush my teeth this morning. But that need, my friends, got did! [And for that, my husband was thankful come goodbye-kiss time!]


Besides the everyday, ordinary, "small" tasks that need no calling, however, are the bigger things to which all believers are already called. These tasks as well need no "extra calling" to be done. For example, the Great Commission - perhaps the "biggest" of all tasks/needs (Matthew 28:19-20) - calls all believers to "go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." Jesus wasn't telling His disciples that only those "called" to foreign missions ought to be taking His Gospel to the ends of the earth. Too many times, we think we need some kind of "special calling" above and beyond that of Jesus' words to actually participate in missions.


Psssssshhht! Hogwash!


So how do we differentiate between that which we ought to be saying "yes" and "no"…as well as fulfilling our callings rather than just meeting every arbitrary need out there in the world?


I gotta' say, there is no easy answer to this one.


In his book, Kevin DeYoung takes a stab at this by guiding readers to write down their priorities in life. When my pastor had us do this activity a few weeks back, I knew what I should be writing down…but my answer was a far cry from the woulda, coulda, shouldas.


Here is what my list should have looked like:

1) Alone Time with God
2) Michael (my husband)
3) Ministry Opportunities
4) Work
5) School
6) Friends
7) Other

Instead…

1) Work/School (interchangeable, based on the day)
2) Michael
3) Ministry Opportunities
4) Other
5) Friends/Alone Time with God (again, depending on the day)

Ugh. Fail. Epically so.


Though I thought that God carried place numero uno in my heart, I wasn't living that out in the day-to-day. And boy, was it was easy to determine what my top priority was...it was whatever I moved the other stuff around to get it completed. 

Since the Crazy Busy study, I have been seeking to right myself in the sight of the Lord, priority-wise. It's not an easy journey, but it is both a need and a call. And I'll bet that many of you as well struggle with this great battle for our attentions. So let's be about the work of aligning our priorities as they should be - by placing God back on the throne of our hearts and giving Him the pen to our planners. May our lives began to mirror the lyrics from one of my favorite worship songs as of late:
"Hallelujah, all I have is Christ. Hallelujah, Jesus is my life!"

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