Chapter 5: Lies Women Believe About Priorities
Day 1: God’s Priorities
Lie #18: “I don’t have enough time to do everything I’m supposed to do.”
Have you noticed that, despite all the ideas, inventions and technology designed to make our lives easier, they have actually made our lives more and more busy, intense, and overwhelming?
There’s a lot of pressure in our culture to do more and better than anyone else. This is especially true of women – not only are women expected to take care of their husbands and kids, which is a 24/7 job in and of itself, but they’re supposed to work and have time for friends and church and hobbies and the list goes on. And these are just the “big points.” Any one of you reading this could, I’m sure, quite easily write down several dozen things you feel you need to do within the next 24 hours. And have you noticed that for every one you check off, there’s three more?
The pressure increases when we spend time on social media like Facebook or blogs. There’s a never-ending supply of “perfect women” with “perfect families” and “perfect lives.” We can easily become discouraged, forgetting that they are presenting an image that is made up of highlights, not reality.
If you’re overwhelmed, I have some news for you. I say news, because it depends on you if it’ll be good or bad news. Here it is: We all have the same amount of time every day. The problem is not our time, it’s our priorities.
Now, if you’re an overachiever like me, I may have just really irritated you. Sorry.
I get it; the temptation to believe that I not only should do it all, but can do it all if I just try harder, is powerful. But it’s also temptation – because if we believe it, it leads us to sin. How could this be, you ask? Because it leads to me trusting in myself, not God. It causes me to put second things first and first things last. It makes me frustrated, angry, and difficult to be around.
The biggest struggle with this lie is that it feeds our pride. How could it be wrong to want to be productive? Our priorities in and of themselves aren’t sinful, so we assume that everything’s okay with what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. But we keep running out of time, day after day after day. Things get worse, not better. Why? What we’re doing may not be wrong; but if it’s not what God wants us to be doing, it is.
The truth is that we all have exactly enough time in every day to do what God wants us to do. The conflict comes when we try to do the things we want to do, instead. It comes when we don’t seek God’s will for the day; when we don’t surrender our day to his control. But there’s so much freedom in knowing that all I have to do each day is what God has for me. It removes the pressure; it removes myself from the equation; comparison is gone, and now I can just take each next step as it comes. Didn’t get to something on my list? That’s okay – God didn’t have it for me today, and tomorrow is a new day.
This, however, leads us to the next problem we have when it comes to priorities.
Sometimes our wrong priorities stem from laziness. We don’t like doing hard things, so we put the hard things off. But instead of feeling better, we feel worse because of the guilt that comes along with it. At the end of the day we say, “Hey, I didn’t get to it, no big deal.” But when it’s something God wanted us to do, it IS a big deal. And that’s where the guilt comes in. And instead of it being easier later, it’s harder later.
Other times our wrong priorities are a result of our dangerous need to please other people. We let others control our lives. It could be our families, it could be friends, it could be people we don’t even see, but all of us, at one point or another, will struggle with the expectations of others. We have to stop letting others control our lives and let God control our lives.
Sometimes we have bad priorities simply because we’ve never sat down to evaluate our priorities! We’re just living life… but that can only last so long. We have to sit down, consider our choices, and make adjustments to be productive and at peace.
Actions follow beliefs, right? So what happens if we feel that we can’t get everything done today? We probably won’t. We can so easily psych ourselves out. The stress and anxiety and fear of failure causes us to be distracted, do the job poorly, or take twice as long as we should on a project. And then we’re even more behind.
What about burn-out? Here’s a little secret for you: burn-out is a result of wrong priorities. The cure is to be more committed to your passion, to what you were created for; and that starts with your relationship with God.
Isn’t it true that the first thing to be cut from our list when we’re overwhelmed is our personal worship with God? We think it’ll slow us down, so we either rush through it or skip it altogether, sometimes planning to do it later. But later never comes.
In putting our relationship with God on the back burner, we cut ourselves off from the only power source that can help us to live productively! We’re not walking in the Spirit, we’ve not sought God’s direction for the day and for our tasks, and we’re not living by grace. When problems arise, we’re not able to come to God in prayer. And things get worse, not better.
In our next lesson, we’ll be looking at Jesus’ example, but I’ll give you a preview real quick. Regardless of how busy Jesus was, his time with God was always the most important thing and he was willing to put other people and circumstances off in order to pray and spend time with his Father. Not only that, but there were many times when Jesus directly defied the expectations and demands of those around him, simply because God had called him to go somewhere else, to do something else. How did he know? Because he started each day with God.
Frustration is a result of doing things in my own strength and having the wrong priorities.
Freedom, joy and fruitfulness come from trusting God’s grace and direction for my day-to-day and life-long priorities.
We cannot effectively prioritize our lives when we’re disconnected from God. Our priorities must flow out of our relationship with Him. In order to begin to know how to do this, I’ve got some practical tips for you.
- Start each day with personal worship.
Corrie ten Boom said, “Don’t pray when you feel like it. Make an appointment with the Lord and keep it!” Your time with God needs to include spending time in His word and in prayer. We’ll talk more about how to effectively do that soon. But establishing and renewing your relationship with God at the start of the day is crucial. It enables you to hear His voice, walk in His Spirit, and call on Him for help whenever you need Him.
- Give God permission to interrupt your day.
Part of what must happen in your initial time with God is surrendering the day to Him; give him permission to disrupt your life – because it’s His life, not yours, anyway. Let Him do what He wants today, and then go with the flow when He changes your plans. Live by His strength, not yours.
- Get organized.
Now, I know not everyone has a talent or even desire for organization, but it’s important to cultivate this discipline in your life is you want to find peace and freedom! There are tons of resources out there, so find what works for you. You may be able to just use the calendar and reminder apps on your phone. Maybe a physical day planner would help you. I also have a Priority Worksheet you can use to help you get started. Get used to writing things down so that you don’t have to call them to mind – this will free up your mind and help you stay focused on what you’re doing now, rather than worrying about what’s next.
These are just a few general things to get you started; if you’d like more detailed help or direction, please let me know!
Points to Remember:
- I must rely on God’s power, not mine.
- There is exactly enough time for me to do what God has for me each day.
- I don’t have to do everything; I just need to do what God assigns to me.
- Frustration is the result of trying to do things in my power, based on what I want.
- Freedom, joy, and fruitfulness are the result of trusting God’s grace and direction for my daily life.
And in case you thought I’ve got this nailed down myself, let me just share a little something with you: This post has sat half-finished in my drafts for 3+ weeks. Funny how things get crazy busy when learning about priorities! Brace yourself…
In a word: passionate. About Jesus, church, ministry, music, reading, family, friends, and sometimes even iced skinny soy mochas.