Hyatt says it took him two days to do his life plan. I understand. I started praying and processing through this about a week ago and yesterday I finally sat down to put my life plan on paper, and I’m still not finished.
The first part of the life plan was to list out my priorities. Here’s what I came up with:
- Personal well-being ( I broke this in to three categories: spiritual/physical/emotional)
- Ministry to Church
Here are a couple of questions I wrestled through while I was making that list:
1. Why isn’t God my first priority? If you’re familiar with my blog at all you should be asking that question. Surely, the number one priority in my life would be God.
When I was praying and processing I realized that I didn’t want God to just be a ‘priority’ in my life. He isn’t some bullet point on a list of things that really matter to me. When we put Him first on our list it’s almost as if we’re declaring God is a part of our lives. But God shouldn’t be a part of our lives, even the biggest part of our lives. God should BE our lives. To be a Christian means that He owns my life. There’s no longer anything left outside of Him.
I didn’t put God on the list because the whole list comes out of God. My priorities are established through Him. In fact, my hope is that this list is actually a list of His priorities.
I don’t want to compartmentalize God. I don’t want to think of Him as separate from any aspect of my life. Instead, as I think through each ‘priority’, I want to consider how that part of my life is critical to Him. How does He want me to use that part of my life for His glory?
2. Why am I my first priority? When I first saw Hyatt’s list I had this same question because he puts himself above everyone else. Why would he do that? It doesn’t seem very Philippians 2 of him, right?
When I teach classes I have two options. One: read the text and study the Bible thinking of how it can benefit my students. Two: read the text and study the Bible thinking of how it can benefit me. I truly believe that my students will gain more if I go with option two.
If we are not feeding for ourselves first, we are feeding our families and friends stagnant water. If you are putting your kids, your spouse, your job or your ministry before your personal interaction with God and His Word you’re actually doing them a disservice.
I don’t think I’m more important than anyone else. I don’t think that my wants and interests should be considered above theirs. I just think that the best thing for everyone is that I be found in Him alone; that I make my spiritual, physical and emotional health a priority.
I hope to be the kind of woman, who drops everything when someone has a need; who sincerely counts others as more significant than myself. I think putting my well-being as my first priority makes me more likely to do that, not less.
3. Why is mission before ministry? And why is ministry before career? I think the general call on a Christian comes before the specific call. I think I’m called to teach, but this is a specific call on my life. The general call on my life is to love God and love those around me, and I think that comes first.
I don’t want to make the mistake of thinking that ministry exempts me from the call of Christ. I don’t want to make the mistake of thinking that because I ‘teach’ others to live on mission I am exempt from living on mission.
So, I am putting mission and community as a priority above ministry. And I’m putting ministry to the church above any career path I’ll ever take. Why? Because again – ministry to the church is something I’m called to do. It’s laid out for me in Scripture. It’s commanded of me in scripture.
I have a little extra challenge here because my career actually is ministry. I know the unique dangers of that. It can become super easy for me to think I’m spiritually healthy because I’m in ministry. I can become far less intentional with my community and mission because I work for a church. It’s so easy for me to slip in the pattern of thinking that because I spend all day talking ‘about’ God, I have spent all day ‘with’ God. Part of my goal in making this list of priorities was to help me reset and remember that the general call on my life – to be a Christian – comes before the call to be in ministry.
One more thing: Putting things on my list means two things: 1) it means that something that isn’t on the list gets bumped for something that is. 2) It means that I fight to ensure that one of my priorities doesn’t cannibalize the rest. Making a list of priorities doesn’t mean that we neglect the lower things for the upper things. All of these things are things that matter to me and things that I think matter to God; that’s why they’re on my list.
The second part of the life plan was to think through each priority and answer a couple of key questions. Here’s a sample from my first priority (the spiritual health part of my well-being):