Remember Your Priorities
Part I
                                                                  Rev. Christopher Boyd

Happy New Year! 2008 is already great! It seems like a month of Sundays since my last entry. I have been working on the “Whatever it
Takes” lesson for some weeks now, off and on, but by and large I have not had the focus on my priorities that has been needed, which
is why you see the gap between entry dates. I apologize for that because I want you to know that I love and respect you in the order in
which God gave you to me:

  • God 1st
  • Family 2nd
  • Work 3rd

I hate to admit it, but I have allowed, in some ways, work to slip into that lead position. It’s not been intentional; it’s just that the urgent
things have caught my attention above the important. Any time that happens, you will forsake your priorities and neglect the things of

Remember Matthew 6:33 – “seek 1st the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all the other things will be added unto you.” Never
a more true statement has been written.

In my monthly mentoring lesson from the Maximum Impact Club, John Maxwell talked about the “Leader’s Greatest Things.” He said,
a leader’s greatest asset is an ability to think or his taking time to think. That is what my time in writing to you and my looking for
insight to share with you does for me. It enables me to think for the future. It keeps my priorities in perspective. It forces me to line up
with what God says above what my flesh instinctively wants.

There are a few of things I want to do with this lesson:
  • I want to help you realize the difference between urgent things and important things.
  • I want to help you understand how to keep first things first.
  • I want to give you some resources to help you stay on track for future progress

To begin, I need to make a confession… I am a doer!!! I can’t deny it – I am addicted to doing!

The only problem with that is, doing does not always lend itself to thinking. As a result, I
#1 don’t always do the right things, and
#2 the things that I do don’t always turn out right.

Bishop Bronner has taught that every moment spent in preparation reduces the amount of time spent in execution. So as I plan, I think,
resulting in more precise execution of the plan.

All that said, thinking leads to more precise (efficient and effective) execution.

Rene Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” Proverbs 23:7 says, “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Another way to think
about these statements is, I become what I think about in my heart, or rather, I become what’s in my heart.
The things that are in my heart are the things I have thought about or meditated on.

So the question then becomes, what’s in my heart? Whatever is in my heart will determine my actions. It begins with my thoughts,
however. So if my priorities are: God, Family, Work – in that order, then those are the thoughts I need to have so I can walk those
priorities out in my life.

So what keeps me from acting according to my priorities? What distracts my focus away from God as numero uno? Let’s move into
that part of the lesson now.

1. Not keeping first things first. (Matt 6:33)
Bishop has told us a number of times, “If we forget the ultimate we become slave to the immediate.” That is so true. So how do we
remember the ultimate? We need to understand the difference between things that are urgent and those that are important.

Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” displays this paradigm in the following matrix:

A great biblical example that helps make this matrix clear is the story of Mary and Martha found in Luke 10:38-42, which reads: “Now
it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she
had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was DISTRACTED with much serving, and she
approached Him and said, “Lord do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus
answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has
chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

It is no coincidence that Luke used the term “distracted” to describe Martha’s predicament. Using our matrix, let’s examine both
Martha and Mary’s response to the situation.

Martha’s Position: Home owner and host
Martha’s Perspective: Serve Jesus
Martha’s Priority: Focus on the urgent (Quadrant 1)
Mary’s Position: Resident – assistant to Martha (sister)
Mary’s Perspective: Listen to the heart of Jesus – Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:8)
Mary’s Priority: Focus on the important (Quadrant 2)

Martha had allowed the urgent things to sneak into the place of the important. When this happens, we allow ourselves to become slave to the immediate things because we have forgotten the ultimate.

This does not mean that the urgent things are not important because they are. In fact, these urgent things often are identified as crisis
that must be attended to, much like a fire. The problem is we sometimes make things urgent because we think it is of high urgency to

That is what happened to Martha. I’m sure she thought that the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords in all his majesty and glory desired
to be treated like royalty and served an elegant meal fit for a king. The pressure to flawlessly perform that awesome task was intense.
In her mind, everything had to be perfect, from the table setting to the fluffiness of the bread. After all, that’s what He deserved – that’
s what he desired!

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things,” Jesus said. She must have thought, “Well isn’t that what you
want? You are the king of glory! You are the bright and morning star. You are the “rose of Sharon. How dare I belittle your coming to
dine with me in my home?”

Now that’s exactly where I, and so many of us, have gotten caught up. We say, “I’m doing the Lord’s work. I’m serving for Jesus. I’
m on the battlefield for my Lord and I promised Him that I would serve him till I die…”

The key thing we learn from this passage is, Jesus desires for us to do the most important thing by investing in our relationship with
Him and sitting at His feet so that we can hear and know His heart. He said, “But one thing is needed (Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and heard
His word vs39), and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

It’s interesting that he said what Mary chose would “not be taken away from her.” What a powerful statement! I interpret that to mean,
when I invest in my relationship with Jesus the Christ (the Messiah, the alpha and omega, the omnipresent and omniscient creator of
all), the payback and dividends will last for eternity and no one can take that away from me. In fact, He said in Luke 21:33 that “Heaven
and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” So when I do the important thing and sit at his feet and hear his
words, they will outlive Heaven and earth.”

That makes for an easy choice huh?

Easier said than done!

We’ll talk about the disciplines required to remain at Jesus’ feet in just a bit, but here are a few more observations about the Steven
Covey’s time management matrix above.

The matrix shows that half if not more of our time should be spent focusing on the important things, as Mary wisely chose. Focusing
on the important things has several benefits:

Fewer things become urgent
We live a more balanced life
Our relationships thrive
We leave a legacy that lasts
We gain the respect of those around us
Peace is the umpire of our soul – inward and outward

The other area where we tend to consume time is on the Urgent but Not Important things – Quadrant 3. These are the things that are
important to others. Notice that the number there is relatively high at 30%. I think that is realistic but not necessarily ideal.
These are the things that we need to delegate to others. One unhealthy tendency of leaders is to take on the tasks of
others. A clear mission, goals, and work direction can help others identify their range of influence and give them the
freedom and confidence to perform well in that area. That helps maintain peace and forward progress within an

Quadrant 4 is a place where we sometimes get caught up but is really unhealthy for a productive team. There is nothing of worth or
value in Quadrant 4. Things in this quadrant include gossip, idle chatter, and other things that break our focus. 1 Timothy 6:3-5 says,
“If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine
which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which
come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that
godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.”

I think that’s pretty clear!

Tips from Mary and Martha that help us remain at Jesus’ feet?
  1. Recognize when Jesus is near and seize the moment (Luke 10:38) – Create an atmosphere that ushers in His presence
  2. Welcome Jesus into your home and heart (Luke 10:38) – Acknowledge that he is all and his desire is to dwell with you as El
    Shaddai, the all sufficient one.
  3. Introduce Jesus to others (Luke 10:39) – Relationships are the basis of life and communication is the basis of all relationship. In
    order to remain close to Jesus, surround yourself with others who have the same desire.
  4. Don’t worry about what others do (Luke 10:40) – the only person I can control is myself. Trying to control others only leads to
    frustration (just ask Martha).
  5. Don’t worry about things – keep life simple (Luke 10:41) Matt 6:25 – 34 speaks to this so clearly. Verse 34 concludes this
    passage by saying, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the
    day is its own trouble.”
  6. Focus on things that are eternal (Luke 10:42) – As the song says, “Hold to his hand, God’s unchanging hand. Build your hopes
    on things eternal. Hold to God’s unchanging hand.”

2. Divided focus - A lack of a clear vision / mission (…more to come!)
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