Wednesdays with Jillene: living by your priorities or opportunities?

Are you living by your priorities or opportunities?

(This seems to be one of those times when the best place to start is the hard part no one really wants to face, me included.) How many times a month, week, day do you say things like:

“I meant to be there… but something came up.”

“I just got too busy and lost track of time.”

What do our words express? Do our apologies make things better or instead reveal the truth we too often cannot see?

Do you live by your priorities or by opportunities?

I know the natural defensiveness that rises up from within. “Of course I live by my priorities! I am not an opportunist! Sometimes… well… all too often, life just gets so busy. There are so many things to do!”

The thing about my defensiveness, is that even in the middle of arguing my motives, the truth of my decisions brings my true priorities to light. I’ve betrayed myself. More than the events I didn’t attend, the people I forgot to call, the moments I’ve missed… I’ve exposed my disloyalty to the very things I believe to hold most dear.

And there are times when I need to call myself to accountability and right what I’ve allowed to go askew. Because, here’s the thing, our lives are FULL. There aren’t many people who have more time on their hands with little to nothing to fill it with… and even then we may find that they too are living based on opportunity verses priority.

When was the last time you evaluated your priorities? Seriously, when have you sat down and contemplated what was important to you against an honest assessment of where you spend your money, fill your daily schedule, make and keep your commitments and give your attention?

Because let me tell you, when I’m honest with myself a quick look at the app on my phone monitoring usage quickly betrays any excuses I offer. I have hours to spend on my phone but I can’t find a few minutes to return a phone call, text a friend in need, read one more book to my children?

(That is doing a little more than just stepping on my toes… and I need my toes stubbed in the worst way. How about you?)

And it isn’t just my phone at fault because opportunities come in all shapes, sizes, costs, and rationale.

Maybe it is the game you’re addicted to, or that habit that consumes more hours than it should. What about your need to stay so occupied that you have barely a moment to breathe? It could be your van load of kids with all their activities to attend. Ever thought about how disorganization leads to dropping important tasks and appointments? Or is your schedule so rigid that you miss the chance to minister in unexpected moments? Do you have ideals so unattainable that every day is filled with struggles to achieve and the disappointing reality of again falling short?

Opportunity has a sneaky way of masking itself as priority. From Genesis and on throughout, the Bible reminds us we are really good bad at creating idols. We can even make living intentionally and by priority an idol. We humans are silly that way.

I don’t have a formula for setting your life back in order. No 7-step program for identifying your priorities and strategically scheduling your life to maximize every second. No tried and true test to know when to say yes even though you want to say no or when to say no even though you want to say yes. I’m not offering a grading rubric to assess if this is a skill in which you are in the emerging, developing, or proficient stage.

But I do have this: Spend time this week in prayer. Ask God to reveal the ways you are allowing opportunities to undermine your priorities.  Ask God to help you make the hard choices to steer your life back in line in the areas where you’ve drifted away.

James 1:5 reminds us, “ If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” So God, right now I admit that we need wisdom. In a world filled with opportunity it is all too easy to betray our desire to live your priority. God, we ask you for the wisdom needed to honestly evaluate how we’ve been living. God we ask you for the wisdom needed to identify your heart for the priority of how then we should live. God we ask you for the wisdom to face each day for what it is: a tremendous blessing you’ve given us to honor and glorify you. Thank you for your love, mercy and grace. Amen.

~Jillene

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