Setting Priorities Biblically

setting priorities biblically

After working an extremely stressful job for almost 7 years, I realized that my priorities were out of order. Time with God or even for myself had gone by the wayside. Work had become my top priority, followed by laundry (more work) and cleaning the house (even more work). Making time for family, friends, or the blog was nearly impossible. I was exhausted all the time.

Setting My Priorities

As I was writing my Life Plan (How Changing My Life Helped Me Move Forward), one of the steps was to prioritize my “life accounts.” Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy write in their book,  Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want, “The people who live and lead with the most joy and contentment are those who have clarity about their priorities.”

So, as I mentioned in my previous blog post, my life accounts are Faith, Self-Care,  Art (my husband), Kids, Parents & Brothers, Friends, Creative/Career, and  Financial (in that order). But how did I prioritize these accounts? I tried to follow God’s Greatest Commandments, in Matthew 22: 37-40:

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (NKJV)

How does this teaching correspond to my life accounts?

Well, “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind”, to me, means that God and my faith come first.  In practice, this means that I do my devotions and Bible Study first thing in the morning (after feeding the dogs). It also means that I will make it a priority to find a church home.

The second part of the commandment is a little more tricky. It reads, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Many of you have probably seen the acronym JOY which stands for Jesus, Others, Yourself. Growing up, this was the order I was told my priorities should be.

Since then I have learned the lesson of putting on my own oxygen mask first. Think of it this way. You are on an airplane, accompanying a small child. The plane hit some turbulence and oxygen masks drop down from the ceiling. If you assist the child, before you put on your own oxygen mask, you run the risk of passing out before the child’s mask is secure. Instead, as any good flight attendant will tell you, you should first put on your own oxygen mask before assisting those around you.

So to me, when Jesus says, “love others as you love yourself,” it means that I must take good care of myself, in order to be of service to others. It also means that when others are my priority, I should treat them with the same respect that I would treat myself. I should honor someone else’s request for down time and respect their own need for self care.  I should also assist those who need help in taking care of themselves.

I have found that after setting my priorities according to the Great Commandments, that the other priorities, such as Career/Creative and Financial, sort of just fall into place. There are times when this way of prioritizing seems counter-intuitive to everything I was taught. Then I remember,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3: 5-6 NKJV)

What are your priorities?

How Changing My Life Helped Me Move Forward

changing my life

changing my life

A little over a year ago, I wrote my Life Plan, using the book Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want. (Writing My Own Eulogy).

After I wrote my eulogy, I chose eight “life accounts”. For me, these were Faith, Self-Care,  Art (my husband), Kids, Parents & Brothers, Friends, Creative/Career, and  Financial, prioritized in that order. For each account I wrote a purpose statement, a vision of the future, an inspiring quote, the current reality and specific commitments to achieve my envisioned future.

For example, under my “Art” account, I wrote:

Purpose Statement:

My purpose is to love and support Art in all his endeavors, to be his best friend and confidant, and his compatriot in laughter and in tears.

Envisioned Future:

Art and I take time to pray together every day.  We go on a date once a week.  We look for moments to be together and enjoy each other’s company the most.  We have our own interests, but also have multiple shared interests.

Inspiring Quote:

“What greater thing is there for two human souls, than to feel that they are joined for life–to strength each other in all labor, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in silent unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting?”
– George Eliot

Current Reality:

We do a quick prayer together each day but not a detailed one. We rarely date or do anything fun. We do enjoy our time together and fight much less than we used to.  We have our own interests, but we don’t have a shared interest, besides TV and walking.

Specific Commitments:

Art and I will plan a date at least once a week.
We will plan an away trip at least once a month.
We will pray together each night when he comes to tuck me in with specific prayers

One of the things I realized after finishing my Life Plan was that I was miserable at my job. I loved my co-workers, but we had expanded from a 10 person office to an over 20 person manufacturing plant in less than a year. The drastic change, combined with unrealistic expectations from our corporate office had tanked morale.

I was making good money, for anywhere except the Bay Area.  I could either work myself to the bone to barely be able to pay rent, or we could move somewhere with a lower cost of living and less stress.

A few months went by. I put my Life Plan on the back burner. I was so busy and stressed from work that I barely had time to blog. By the weekends, I was so exhausted I mostly just did chores and slept. Art suggested we move to Oregon, but I was not yet ready to make that large a leap.

Then, in August 2016, I was asked to review How To Quit Your Job – The Right Way: A 5-Step Plan To Ditching Your Day Job by Danny Iny and Jim Hopkinson.  This book reinforced my belief that I needed to quit my job. The authors also encouraged me to pursue my “side gig” of writing and blogging as a full-time career. They shared PDFs and spreadsheets which helped me determine how many months it would take me to save a “Quit My Job” fund. I set a leave date of April 4, 2017.

Then it just got to be too much. By mid-September, I knew I couldn’t stay at my job any longer, but I hadn’t had enough time to save much in my “Quit My Job” fund.  Art and I decided to take the leap.  I drafted a proposal for my bosses, to work remotely, from Oregon, and come in to the office for one week of every month.  I sat down with them and explained that I would be moving in October, then presented them with my proposal. Unfortunately, it was turned down.

We persevered in our move.  It has been a struggle, but with the help of family and friends we are making it happen. Art and Bud went back to school. We are only 3 hours away from Boo, which is nice. I am writing full-time, which is a dream come true!

As I reviewed my Life Plan, on the one year anniversary of writing it, I was surprised. Even though I hadn’t looked at it much, my life has changed to match my goals. I have made self-care a priority. Art and I are closer than ever before. I am pursuing my dream.

As the saying goes, “Life is what happens to you, while you’re busy making other plans.” Although my move was not ideal, everything has worked out to make us all happier than we were before. In addition, all three of us are on paths for success. Although I don’t recommend it for everyone, sometimes a drastic change is needed in order to be able to move forward, and be happy.

Have you ever made a drastic change? How did it turn out?