Concise and really helpful, I simply had to reproduce this article I read from the book, Profiles of Success.
How to Order Your Priorities
by Patrick Morley
Priorities, like promises, need to be kept
Once we invited Bill Walton, co-founder of Holiday Inn who experienced a late-in-life conversion, to speak at an outreach dinner. As it happened, our Bible study was meeting at the next meeting so I invited Mr Walton.
The next morning after our Bible study, a group of about eight men, ages 30-45 spent two or three minutes describing where they were on their spiritual pilgrimages.
As each successful man shared, I noticed Mr Walton, a father of four, becoming more and more fidgety.
Finally, it was his turn to speak.
He said, “It is true that I helped to build a great corporation. But to do so I arrived at the office every morning by seven and rarely got home before ten o’clock at night.”
His brow furrowed, his shoulders drooped, and his lip quivered as he added, “I never saw a single little league baseball game.”
What are Priorities?
Mr Walton would have us know that men who fail usually fail because they didn’t manage their priorities.
The dictionary says that a “priority” is something to which we give precedence because of its urgency or importance. To “prioritize” means to arrange in order of importance.
Priorities, then are “pre-decisions” we make to decide in advance what we will give ourselves to. When we set priorities, we are literally writing history in advance.
Priorities become a grid to help us distinguish opportunity from distraction. They are filters throughout which we can sift daily decisions to make sure we keep on track. When we set priorities in advance, it reduces the pressure we feel when we must make decisions under fire.
The Example of Jesus
Jesus made decisions based on his priorities. One morning after a tiring night, Jesus went to have some time to himself. It was not to be…
At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place.
The people came to where he was and tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, “I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that it why I was sent.” (Luke 4:42-44)
Notice three things.
First, people tried to keep Jesus from leaving.
Perhaps they appealed to his compassion. The better job you do, the more people will ask you to do. Without intending to, people will ask you to do things that meet their needs, but don’t necessarily match your priorities.
Second, Jesus knew his purpose.
He said, “I must preach the Good News, because that it why I was sent.”
His purpose determined his priorities. He did not let the emotion of the moment affect his judgement. Since he decided in advance what he should do, he was not distracted.
Third, Jesus did what he was called to do.
The pressure to do that which is good but not best has put many wagons in the ditch.
There is one great rule for priority living we glean from the example of Jesus: make decisions on the basis of your priorities, not your pressures.
How to Prioritize
No man can do everything.
Choices must be made.
How can priorities help us make choices about how we invest our limited time and money?
Triage is the military technique of deciding how to prioritize treatment of wounded soldiers when a wave of new casualties swamps the capacity of the medic unit.
The helicopters bring back three groups of wounded soldiers:
- Those who will die no matter what is done.
- Those who will live even if treatment is delayed.
- Those who will live only if given immediate treatment
Can you guess the order of treatment?
For our personal decision-making we should conduct a little civilian triage:
- Who can’t live without you, or you without them?
- Who would you help if you didn’t have to neglect group 3 (those who would be ok with or without you)
Why is it that we often give the most of our time to those who care about us the least, and the least of our time to those who care about us the most?
That’s why we should decide in advance what our priorities ought to be, prioritizing everything on the basis of who will cry at our funeral.
Never Do Anything Someone Else Can Do
Many years ago I decided I would only do things I do well. That served a good purpose, because it kept me in my areas of competence.
However, I have also realized that simply because I do something well doesn’t mean it’s the best use of my time.
Since then I’ve added a “part two”.
I also don’t do anything if someone else can also do it.
Since I write and prepare messages at my home office, this means that I make a photocopy if I need one. But when I am at the ministry office I have someone else make it.
This principle frees for us an unusually large amount of time.
Try it. But don’t tell your wife to take out the trash instead of you – it really is something only you can do for reasons that should be obvious!
Distinguish opportunity from distraction. Many times distractions come disguised as opportunities.
Unless we have thought through who we are, what our lives are all about, and what’s important to us, we will not have the focus to choose the best.
Al Ries says that focus is the art of exclusion.
A great secret of priority living is to have so thought through your life that deciding what to include and exclude becomes second nature.
Recognize the Difference Between a Good Idea and a God Idea
We are naturally inclined to act on the impulse of a good idea.
But sometimes good ideas get in the way of God ideas.
Peter wanted to build three shelters for Moses, Elijah and Jesus at the Transfiguration. The Bible says, “that while he (Peter) was still speaking, God spoke.” (Matthew 17:5) In other words, Peter’s good idea was so impetuous that God literally interrupted Peter “while he was still speaking.”
Prayer removes the impulse of the good idea born of human ingenuity but not of God.
Pray, then plan.
It is the habit of a man who would distinguish between good ideas and God ideas.
Areas to Prioritize
Every one must take personal responsibility for his private life and set priorities in five areas:
- his relationship with God,
- his relationship with his wife,
- his relationship with his children,
- his finances, and
- his health (including leisure and rest
No one else will, or can, do this for you.
Also a man must set priorities for his work and his personal ministry.
Patrick Moley is a business leader, men’s author, and speaker. He is Chairman and CEO of Man in the Mirror, a ministry which conducts church-sponsored men’s events. Patrick has been used to help men think more deeply about their lives, to be reconciled with Christ, and to be equipped to have a larger impact on the world. To contact Man in the Mirror, write 154 Wilshire Blvd., Casselberry, FL 32707, or call: 407-331-0095