Two weeks ago our family went on vacation to Wyoming. As we traveled, we drove past all of the places our whole family used to stop at: Wall drug, the Black Hills, Sturgis, and the usual gas stations. It made me think about my priorities and I wondered if I was actually reaching any of my ten year goals.
When I returned home, I found a paper I had written ten years ago from August 2007 where I actually wrote out my priorities. The reason I did this was because at the time I was struggling. Freshwater was growing rapidly, my three kids were growing up, I was busy running a lawn and snow business, I had just started a doctoral program, and I was contemplating selling my house to a developer and moving across town. I needed to figure out my priorities so I would have some direction in life because I was so busy and I felt like my life was spinning out of control. As a matter of fact, it was.
10 years ago I wrote these three values as my top priorities:
Family: I will prioritize my family above my career and only second to my relationship with God.
Spiritual Growth: I will make the time to cultivate my spiritual life on a daily basis through Bible reading, meditation, prayer, and spiritual conversations with other believers.
Recreation: I will take time to replenish myself physically and emotionally because ministry is difficult and demanding.
I have referred to these statements on a regular basis just to make sure my daily priorities are in line with what I value. I have not always been successful at this, but these values have helped me to make sure my priorities are in the right places. I’m certainly glad that I wrote them down. I wish I would have done it when I was in my twenties.
What are your priorities right now? Do you know? Can you write them out? How much better would your life be if you actually prioritized what you really value? If you can pin point your priorities, write them out, and live them out, then you probably feel less guilt and more joy. You probably feel less stressed and more energized. Ten years from now you will look back and feel a sense of accomplishment. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live a life filled with good intentions. I want to live a full life with no regrets.
Whatever you prioritize will always be evident in your calendar, finances, and relationships because your priorities leave fingerprints all over your life that others can see and read like a book.
Here is how you can prioritize your spiritual life.
2. Arrange your schedule around your actual priorities.
This is why it is so important to know what your priorities are. If I were to follow you around and observe you for a week, I could tell you what is most important in your life. You might not like it, or agree with it, but I would be right. Your calendar doesn’t lie, it only reflects your priorities.
3. Be OK with not being available for everything and everyone.
You cannot do everything for everyone. You need to learn how to say no to the wrong things so that you have the time to say yes to the right things that reflect your real priorities. For a biblical example, read through Acts 6:1-2.
If your priorities are mixed up or unclear, fix them. One night my wife Kathi and I went out for dinner with my friend and mentor Leith Anderson and his wife Charlene. He was the lead pastor at a very large church for 35 years. While we were out eating dinner we talked about ministry and life. I confessed to him that my schedule was starting to wear on me. My schedule was slipping away; I had too much to do and I couldn’t keep up. Leith is the President of the National Association of Evangelicals and leads one of the greatest churches in the country. He writes for the Washington Post as well as for other publications all of the time. At the time of this conversation he had his weekly “Faith Matters” broadcast on the radio in the entire metro area and ran a large staff at the church.
After listening for a minute or two he looked at me right in the eye and said, “John, who controls your schedule?” I said, “I do.” All he said was, “Then fix it.” That was it, that was his advice. Plain and simple. If I control my schedule then I needed to fix it. So I started to figure out where all of my time goes and in order to do that I had to think long and hard about my priorities.
Just because God was your number one priority at one point in your life doesn’t mean that he still is today. Maybe you have drifted a little bit and now he isn’t at the center of your life any more. Rick Warren says “Living in light of eternity changes your priorities.” He is right. Will you commit to making the pursuit of God your number one priority? Will you consciously make the development of your spiritual life a priority? When Christ is at the center, everything else comes together.
Is Celebrate Recovery for me?
That is a great question. You may have heard about Celebrate Recovery during one of the services at Freshwater. The big question continues to be, “Is Celebrate Recovery for me?” I want to tell you more about this ministry so you can make an informed decision about whether or not it’s for you.
Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered recovery ministry. It is a safe place for great people to address their hurts, habits, and hang-ups. Let me describe those hurts, habits and hang-ups a little more to give you a better picture of what I am talking about.
Most often, a hurt, habit or hang-up can be defined as anything that keeps you from realizing your full potential as a person. When someone is affected by hurts, habits and hang-ups they can get derailed off of God’s plan and thrown into a world of pain, destruction, and despair.
So what is a Hurt?
“Hurt” can be classified as any life experience that may have had a significant impact on one’s heart and/or mind. Something that has tampered your ability to deal with life in a healthy way. Something that may have twisted your view of yourself, God, or others. Some examples of hurt might include:
• Abuse as a child, or by a spouse, employer, or the church
• Dysfunctional family (divorce, alcoholism, drug abuse, rage, etc.)
So what is a Habit?
“Habits” tend to be unhealthy patterns that often start as a perceived “remedy” for some problem in your life, but end up turning into a chronic bad behavior or addiction. Habits are the repeat, default scripts you run to when the going gets tough. They are your grooved plays that continually lead to trouble in your life. Some common habits are:
• Abusive behavior
• Cheating, affairs, unmarried sex
• Critical spirit
• Eating disorders
• Sex addictions
• Spending problems
• Refusing forgiveness
• Wasteful pursuits
What is a Hang-up?
“Hang-ups” are road blocks that keep you from progressing further in God’s plan for your life. They are often shaped by false realities you may have experienced as a child, or an unhealthy attitude you may have adopted as a means of coping with life’s challenges. Here are some common hang-ups we work through during our 12-step Celebrate Recovery process at Freshwater:
• Anxiety, worry
• Body image problems
• Bullying, bigotry
• Greed, envy
• Guilt and/or shame
• Lack of self-control
• Lack of trust in God
• People pleasing
Now, is Celebrate Recovery for you? If you have identified with one or more of the issues listed and feel that you are stuck in that area, Celebrate Recovery is for you. Celebrate Recovery was developed to help people identify these areas of struggles in their lives and then provides tools to break free and begin living in the fullness, and freedom that God designed for you.
I challenge you to give Celebrate Recovery a try. You will be a better person for it. You are invited to come any Thursday night at 7pm at the St. Boni campus. Come see how you can find freedom from your hurts habits, and hang-ups. You don’t have to live in your sadness, shame, or despair!
Join us every Thursday as we grow, and heal together. Our doors open at 7 o'clock for snacks and hangout. We wrap up by 8:30. God bless you, and see you soon!