Bob Tamasy: Puzzling Through Our Priorities

Monday, June 5, 2017 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
If someone were to ask you, “What are your priorities in life?”, how would you respond? Have you ever consciously tried to define them, or do you prefer the “knee-jerk reaction” approach? 

We all have priorities, even if we can’t list them specifically. For instance, you’re in an important meeting at work, but you receive an urgent phone call that someone in your immediate family has been hurt in an auto accident. You probably wouldn’t say you’ll get to the hospital in a couple of hours, and proceed to the next agenda item, right? Personal emergencies usually take precedence over just about anything.

Sometimes, however, priorities aren’t as easy to sort through.
Imagine you’ve made a commitment to attend one of your children’s school events. You’ve promised. But at the last minute your boss gives you an assignment that conflicts directly with your attendance at that event. Which do you choose? Do you tell the child that, even though you’d love to be there, work responsibilities must come first – hoping he or she will understand?

Or maybe you’re getting ready for church, just about to go out the door, when a neighbor calls in obvious emotional distress, asking for your advice. Do you assure the neighbor you’ll be glad to talk with her later, but sorry, you need to get to the worship service first?

Years ago, a man I greatly respected would often speak about proper priorities for a follower of Jesus Christ, and he would list them this way: 1) God, 2) marriage/family, 3) work, 4) ministry, 5) everything else. At first glance this seems correct. After all, the Scriptures tell us we’re to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind” (Deuteronomy 6:5, Mark 12:30). From a biblical perspective, putting God first in our lives shouldn’t be a matter for debate.

However, I see one problem with ordering priorities in this way. There’s a temptation to devote some time to “God stuff” – like spending a few minutes reading the Bible, praying a bit, maybe attending church or a Bible study – and then we shrug our shoulders, thinking, “Well, I’ve got the spiritual things out of the way. Now I can get on with the rest of my life.”

Instead, I would suggest a similar priority list, with one significant modification: 1) God, 2) God and marriage/family, 3) God and work, 4) God and ministry, 5) God and everything else.

Maybe it’s a uniquely American tendency, but it’s easy for us to compartmentalize life. We have a “God section,” separated from other parts of our everyday pursuits. If we take the Scriptures seriously, this isn’t at all what God expects. That doesn’t mean we must spend every waking hour walking about in flowing robes, hands folded in prayer, speaking soft, religious-sounding platitudes wherever we go. It does mean we’re not to set Him aside when we show up for work, go to the golf course, or visit the local mall.

As the apostle Paul said in explaining his faith in Jesus Christ to the Areopagus, an esteemed council of Greek leaders, while visiting the ancient city of Athens, “For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Similar to breathing, in which we cannot exist without an environment of oxygen, the apostle saw his life fully enmeshed with his relationship to Christ.

In several other passages, Paul stated our focus on God should be a distinctive of everything we think, do and say: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters”
(Colossians 3:17,23). Elsewhere he wrote, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Applying these teachings to the matter of priorities, it seems our relationship with the Lord should be foundational to everything we undertake, whether weighing personal commitments, making sales calls, deciding how to maintain and strengthen relationships with our mates, competing on a tennis court, or evaluating spending decisions.

As Jesus urged His followers, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). He seemed to be saying, either God is everything in our lives – or He is nothing.

In some respects, this seems like a hard saying, but not when we consider, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). It’s all about priorities.

----

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly re-published, “Business At Its Best,” “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. To read more of Bob Tamasy’s writings, you can visit his blog, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, or his website (now being completed), www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com. He can be emailed at btamasy@comcast.net.


Trunk Or Treat Offered At Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church On Oct. 27

Cub Scout Pack 3037, Troop 137, and Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church at 6314 East Brainerd Road, will be hosting a Trunk or Treat on Saturday, Oct. 27, from 5-7 p.m. in the parking lot at the church. Scouts will decorate their automobile trunks with fun themes and enjoy handing out treats to the kids. The community is invited to this free and safe event. Wear your costumes! ... (click for more)

"Dial It Down" Is Sermon Topic At Metro Tab Church On Sunday

The public is invited to worship at Metropolitan Tabernacle Church at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday as Dr. Steve Ball, senior pastor will discuss "Dial It Down." The Music Ministry is led by Rob Alley and Metro Praise. Children's Pastor Olivia Aziz and staff would love to host your kids as well in the Metro Kidz Church. We are a multicultural non-denominational church. You can ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Airport Has Biggest Month Yet; Work May Start Next Year On Parking Deck With 1,300 Spaces

The Chattanooga Airport set a record in September with 44,000 enplanements, the highest ever for one month. This was an increase of nine percent over September 2017, and deplanements were in line, said Terry Hart president and CEO. He said that more parking is needed near the terminal to keep up with the growth. The 20-year master plan includes a parking deck with around 1,300 ... (click for more)

Firefighters Climb 150 Feet To Extinguish Fire At Ardent Mills

Chattanooga firefighters had to climb 150 feet to extinguish a fire at a flour mill off Amnicola Highway on Monday morning. A call came in at  7:35 a.m. for the  fire at 1 Riverside Lane. Ardent Mills reported smoke in the building and all employees were evacuated. Fire crews arriving on the scene could see light smoke coming from a vent on the upper half ... (click for more)

Why Are Joda Thongnopnua And Phil Bredesen Downplaying Their Democratic Values?

For the past several months, the Democratic Party has reached a tipping point. “Their Resistance” is to oppose anything and everything Republicans are doing to deliver a stronger economy and better economic opportunities for all Americans.  Yet, I find it very interesting that the public outcry we are seeing from the Democrats on a national level is nowhere to be found when ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: It’s ‘Tennessee Week’

For over 50 years I have heard the line, “There are two things you must never do on ‘The Third Saturday of October.’ You mustn’t ever marry and try not to die because, in either case, the preacher won’t show up.” He’ll be watching “The Game.” Ever since Oct 18, 1901, Tennessee and Alabama have been going at it and that inaugural game set the tone as well as the standard for all ... (click for more)