A Fresh Look at Priorities

If you’re like me, you periodically attempt to corral all your responsibilities into a single list. And then, with the energy of an executive (rather than the defeat of a person who has faced the reality that she is hopelessly out of sync in accomplishing all on her plate), you assign a priority value to each item on the list.

This can be an invigorating process. Something about listing it all sort of makes you think you have a fresh start…like now that you really know what your responsibilities are and now that you really know their order of importance, you surely won’t get behind. (As if ignorance were our only productivity-zapper!)

But this week, I heard a statement that gave me a fresh look at my priorities. And I didn’t even have to write a list. Here’s the statement:

Your greatest priority is what you are doing right now.

Better than any priority list I’ve ever drafted, this statement pulled several loose ends together in my mind.

I remembered the quote by Jim Elliot, “Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

How often do we fail to live “in the moment” because we are focused on a “bigger” priority we will be engaged in an hour later? This distraction robs us of effectively executing the priority that God has placed before us in this moment.

Paul wrote, “…this one thing I do…I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13–14). As my pastor recently pointed out, Paul didn’t say, “These fifty-six things I dabble with” but “This one thing I do.” Focus makes a difference.

Written or unwritten, we all have a list of responsibilities. And every single one of those responsibilities becomes priority #1 in the moment we engage in it.

The most challenging question is not “what is my greatest priority?” But “am I pouring my heart and soul into the priority in front of me?”