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?