Do you ever come to the end of your day, week, or year and wonder if you’ve wasted your time? Could what we call important in the day-to-day be robbing us of the best? I don’t want to come to the end of my life and learn I missed what really matters. How do we know what’s the most important?
Greg McKeown, author of the book Essentialism, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, suggests an interesting barometer for evaluating our decisions. Consider the people who will gather around your deathbed. That relatively small group identifies the important people in your life. Now evaluate your choices by how they affect them.
I found McKeown’s thoughts to be a great clarifier. Too often, I’ve let the wrong people and activities absorb my time and focus.
McKeown also pointed out that the word priority was singular until the 1900s. “It meant the very first or prior thing.” Now we speak of priorities (plural). How do we have many “first” things?
His words reminded me of Jesus’ discussion with Martha the day she was “worried and bothered about so many things.” You can read about the scene in Luke 10:38-42.
Martha was preparing a meal for at least fourteen men. She assumed her sister would help. But Mary wanted to listen to Jesus.
Finally, Martha could stand it no more. Clanging pots hadn’t gotten their attention, so she stomped into the room and wagged her finger at Jesus. In so many words, she told Him if He cared about what was fair He’d make Mary help her. Whoa! Not a pretty scene. Yet to be honest, at times I’ve felt like Martha.
We know Martha loved Jesus. She’d welcomed Him and His hungry disciples into her home. But the distraction of many things blurred her focus. She stopped serving and began to boss her Lord and her sister. Listen to the Lord’s gentle rebuke:
“41 Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary” (Luke 10:41-42, NASB).
What is the one thing that comes before all else? Jesus tells us in another Scripture: 37 “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-39, NASB).
To love God comes first. When we practice that, the second naturally follows.
Martha opened her home in love, but her work pulled her into another goal. She let her service draw her away from love and into production.
It takes effort to keep the first thing first. Martha learned and continued to open her home and serve but with a change in attitude. Her change set the stage for Mary’s extravagant display of love for Jesus before He faced the cross (John 12:2-7).
Two habits daily freshen my focus. I start each day asking God to speak to me. Then I do one or more of the following:
- Read the next verses in a book of the Bible I’m studying.
- Read Daily Light
- Read Jesus Calling
- Work in a Bible Study (I’m going through Give Yourself a Break again.)
- Listen to the audio Bible at Biblegateway.com.
In the evening, I journal. I keep it short but include thanksgivings and petitions. These two simple habits remind me of what matters most and help me stay on course. They also keep this Martha merry!
What is your one priority? How do you keep it first?
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Debbie W. Wilson
 Greg McKeown, Essentialism, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, p. 16
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