Fishes & Loaves

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The Power of Priorities

I met with a client today and tried to figure out a marketing strategy for his website. Another company had designed his website and the client wasn’t too happy with the results.

Six different graphic and content elements were at the top of his home page, each vying for attention, each trying to say something. It was very cluttered and confusing.

“This design will not work,” I told him. “You need to figure out which element is most important, and make it the largest thing on the page. The rest of the elements can be made smaller, or moved somewhere else.”

“But all of them are important,” the client protested.

“Of course,” I replied. “All of them are important, but you can’t put all of them at the top of the home page. You need to prioritize.”

He wrinkled his forehead. “But all of them are a priority!”

“Mr. Client,” I said, “If everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority. To prioritize means to make a decision about what is most important among many important things. You can have whatever you want, but you cannot have everything you want.”

The same thing is true in your life. You can have anything you want, but you cannot have everything you want. If you don’t set some priorities you won’t be able to focus on anything long enough to make progress.

Our priorities usually reflect our values. We naturally prioritize things according to what we value the most. If we value a healthy body then exercise becomes a priority. If we value our relationship with God then prayer becomes a priority.

But sometimes our priorities don’t match our values. We pay lip service to the things we say are important but if we don’t make them a priority, the less important things consume us and keep us busy.

Jesus taught us to prioritize when He said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33). What does that mean? It means to put your relationship with Jesus first. For a disciple of Jesus, it means making Him your No. 1 priority. It’s a simple but revolutionary concept. You don’t have to seek only the Kingdom of God and forget about all the other important things going on in your life. Just put Jesus first and everything else after.

Putting Jesus first means prioritizing our lives and saying no to a lot of other things. It means giving Him the priority as the most important element among many other competing interests — some of them important, many of them unimportant.

If we don’t make deliberate decisions about what is truly important to us then the loudest thing gets our attention and steals our time. Or the prettiest thing. Or the most urgent thing.

A lot of people struggle with this. For Christians, I don’t think it should be a struggle at all. Just do what Jesus said and seek first the Kingdom of God. He just told you what your priority should be. All you have to do now is put it into practice. That part may not be easy, but it is the secret to keeping your life refreshingly simple and uncluttered.

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