Reading time: 4 minutes
What good are priorities? They:
- Prevent aimless wandering through life.
- Provide a focus for the energy God gives you.
- Enable a meaningful way to resolve conflict.
If you don’t know what you want, life becomes an exercise in trial-and-error. That’s not necessarily bad the younger you are. But over the years, you should develop a greater sense of what life is about.
If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.Lewis Carroll
When you finally know what you value, you can aim your life in a specific direction. Then, the bonus side-effect of having priorities is an unshakable hope. Before you can experience the fullness of hope, you have to learn how to prioritize.
Priorities Reduce Painful Mistakes
Have you ever walked through a room at night without the lights on? If so, you know what it feels like when your toe connects with an object you thought wasn’t there. Figuratively speaking, it’s also possible to be walking through life without the light.
Priorities are like a window that exposes the desires of your heart. You can see what is going on inside your soul. When your priorities are right you are walking in the light. That’s what Jesus is saying in Matthew 6:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!Matthew 6:19-23 ESV
Priorities are values which naturally lead to specific goals. For example, if you value time with family, you might set a goal to increase your time together each week. If your values are really yours (not someone else’s imposed on you), you will be more likely to reach the goal you’ve set.
Values can be superficial, or meaningful and deeply fulfilling. For example, if you value money (prioritizing it above other things), that can be superficial if you store it up and never accomplish anything meaningful from it. But your value of money can also be fulfilling and lead to savings which can be used for good in a time of need.
Priorities Provide A Path To Contentment
After you know what you want, the next step is to learn how to be okay with not getting what you want.
As you mature emotionally and spiritually, your ability to manage life’s difficulties become easier. For example, if you believe you need to go on a vacation at a specific time and place in order to feel happy, and circumstances prevent it, you’ll have a hard time not feeling depressed or angry.
Fortunately, you can “trade up” your values. You can learn to value more than just what will provide an immediate reward. Like Paul, you can learn to be content in all circumstances.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.Philippians 4:11-13 NIV
Isn’t it amazing how Paul can essentially be indifferent about whether he has little or an abundance?
It’s good to learn this skill. You can’t fully learn contentment without developing a greater trust in God. How much do you believe that what He provides for you is sufficient under all circumstances? Ask Him to bless you with this ability.
Life satisfaction is really about joy. When you are joyful, you can be indifferent about your circumstances. The truth that God is real and He rewards those who pursue Him is enough to keep the joy flowing in your heart. Ask God to give you a supernatural understanding of how real He is.
Matt Pavlik is a licensed professional clinical counselor who wants to see each individual restored to their true identity. He has more than 20 years of experience counseling individuals and couples at his Christian counseling practice, New Reflections Counseling. Matt and Georgette have been married since 1999 and live with their four children in Centerville, Ohio.