Wednesday, July 22, 2009

To Do Or Not To Do-Your Priorities


(To Do or Not to Do)

If you made a list of all the things that are expected of you as a wife and mother, you’d probably need more than one page. Sometimes, we put unrealistic expectations on ourselves when it comes to how we spend our day. Of course, the house must be clean and the children be perfectly behaved. And we have to look great all the time, volunteer at the church, and serve delicious home cooked meals. How do we prioritize all these expectations? I’m hoping that I can share with you some practical ways of paring down that list to make it more achievable.

Priorities is a subject that is of great interest and great need to all of us as we face our daily schedule. We say, “How do I know what to put into my day? How do I juggle all the demands that are thrown at me all day long?”

We need to live our lives based on God’s priorities for our lives. Here are some practical insights from God’s Word about the matter of priorities.

Pray- Ask God to show you how to order your life and your schedule based on His Word.

Review God’s priorities for your life—not what everybody else thinks should be your priorities, not what the world says should be your priorities; but what God’s Word says should be your priorities for this season of your life. I like to look at Proverbs 31 when I am feeling sort of overwhelmed with all the “good choices” that I need to make. Just because it’s for the church or is a ministry, does not mean that you were necessarily meant to serve in that particular area. You really need to ask God where He would have you serve. Proverbs 31 basically says that if you have a husband and children, they are your first and foremost ministry. If this is being taken care of, then God might ask you to do something else (take meals to someone who is sick, help feed the poor, teach Sunday School, etc.)

Take inventory- We need to do this periodically, to review our “to-do” list, our list of current responsibilities and to do a time log to evaluate how we’re actually using our time and see if the things on our list and the things we’re putting into our week really fit into the priorities that God has shown us should be the priorities for that season of our lives.

Order your schedule-your activities according to the priorities that God has shown you are the right ones for this season of life. And be willing to say “no” to the things that aren’t. There are good choices, good activities, things you can be involved in that you want to put into your day, you can’t put into your day, if you’re going to order your schedule according to God’s priorities for life.

Resist the tyranny of the urgent-Learn to distinguish between what is urgent and what is important. We have to say “no” to some urgent things, things that clamor to be done now, in order to do the things that are truly important. That’s where we need to become women of the Word, to ask the Lord to make us wise women, so we can discern when these urgent things are important and which ones should we let go. Sometimes when you let some of these other things go, you may risk misunderstanding. There may be people that thing that should be an important matter for you, but you need to get before the Lord and find out “Is this really supposed to be important for me at this season of life?”

The Bible says this, “ You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.” Luke 10:41-42. Do you remember that this is what Jesus told Martha, who was stressing out over fixing a huge meal for company all by herself, while her sister lounged at the feet of Jesus listening to his teaching.

Question: What was the one thing that was needed? To do what He wanted her to do. Not what society dictated ( a five course meal). Also that her motive for serving was pure. Instead of making sure everything was “Even Steven” with her sister. I can totally relate to this because when you are a twin, your parents have to make sure everything is fair.

Nothing is harder to bear than a burden we’re not called to carry. While God does ask us to bear one another’s burdens, he has not asked us to step in and do what people are not willing to do themselves. And while there are many needs, God has not asked us to meet every one.

When you are starting to feel overwhelmed by your too-busy life, you and your husband should try to dump some rocks from your overloaded wagons. Here’s a simple process that you can follow.

1. Make a list of all the activities that you are involved in (children, work, church, etc.).

2. Pray over and prioritize the activities as to importance, assigning each one a number from one to four.

3. Then eliminate all the fours.

While this process may sound overly simplistic, it can really help to lighten your load. It is hard to see things you enjoy to go out the door, but the freedom and the peace we’ve gained have been more than worth it.”

“Now this is what the Lord Almighty says:
'Give careful thought to your ways.'” Haggai 1:5

The Rhyme of a Balance Life

This is something that I’ve discovered about balance. Being balanced is not so much a matter of staying in perfect equilibrium, as it is a matter of finding the right rhythm for our lives.

Picture a teeter-totter. My sister and I loved to teeter totter when we were growing up. You spend a lot of time going up and down, not hovering trying to find the perfect balance to make the thing level. In fact, that’s partly what made it fun. As long as we kept ourselves going up and down, it all equaled out. We could teeter-totter to our heart’s content and still stay more or less in balance.

The balance between worship and service is a lot like that. It often resembles the up-and-down, back-and-forth motion of the teeter-totter than it does that fleeting moment of synchronicity.

One side of my life may take predominance for a while, then the other. One day I may spend several hours in Bible study and prayer, settling softly on the side of intimacy with God, while the next day is given over to volunteering in the Toddler Room during Sunday school or Worship service, which is teetering over toward the service side. If you were to gauge those two days individually, they would appear totally out of balance. But not when you consider them together.

The same is true, I believe, of the seasons in our lives. If you are in that busy stage of chasing after several toddlers, it is very difficult to volunteer outside the home or even grab a few moments alone with God. But when the kids get in school, you will have more time to do both. And one day, in the sad-but-not-so-distant future, when our time will largely be our own, you may actually be able to achieve that perfect symmetry of worship and service.

But you needn’t worry too much if you don’t. That’s the beauty of dynamic, teeter totter balance. As long as your heart is set toward both service and worship, you don’t have to feel guilty when your life seems to settle longer on one side because you know you’ll eventually push off from that spot and spend some time on the other.

Listening to Your Soul: A Balance Checklist

Because we were created for balance, we feel the difference in our souls when our lives tilt too far in one direction or another. The imbalance will show in our attitudes, our energy level, and in the way we interact with other people. Any of the following could be an indication that you need to tilt more toward either service or devotion.

Signs That You May Need More Time In the Kitchen:

1. Slight depression. You feel a vague unhappiness, a sense of being down.

2. Resentment of intrusion. Rather than welcoming people into your life, you find yourself wishing they’d go away.

3. Frustration over direction of life. You feel a sense of purposelessness and sometimes wonder, “Is this all there is?”

4. Increased self-indulgence. You feel an itch to treat yourself with favorite foods or shopping.

5. Apathetic attitude. You find that very little moves you. You know your compassion level is low, but part of you just doesn’t care.

6.Low energy level. Like the Dead Sea, you may have many inlets, but no outlets-therefore you’re growing stagnant.

Signs That You May Need More Time In the Living Room

1. Irritability and frustration. You find yourself snapping at people, wound so tight you’re about to “snap” yourself, and especially short-tempered with those you perceive as lazy or uncooperative.

2. Uncomfortable with quiet. Silence makes you nervous, so you’re quick to turn on the TV or the radio.

3. Low joy threshold. It’s been a long time since you’ve sensed that undercurrent of joy and abundance running through your heart.

4. A sense of isolation. You feel all alone- as if no one is there for you and no one understands.

5. Increased drivenness. You’re haunted by a sense that you must do more and more. You keep volunteering for more projects and more committees, even though you know your plate is full.
Sense of dryness and emptiness. No wonder! You have many outlets and demands, but no inlets or source of strength.

“Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth.”- Psalm 26:2-3

(This post mostly has been taken out of "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World")


Cat said...

Oh, Stacie, well-said and well-written! This is the 3rd day in a row that I've wanted a quiet retreat, alone with God. He has, instead, brought me people and circumstances for ministry. I really want to be obedient, not 'tending to my list'. So! Thank you for the reminders of where I may want to spend the day, or part of it.

Parsley said...

Oh...thank you. I needed that! find out how to put this in my daughter's heart. Please pray with me.

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

Great post, Stace. Something we all need to be reminded of. Love ya!

Rachel and Family said...

Very good. I liked reading this one.

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