Spiritually Mature People Prioritize People over Tasks

im_on_itContinued from here.

Another telltale sign of someone who is spiritually mature is that he or she consistently prioritizes people over tasks. When asked about the greatest commandment, Jesus also identified the second greatest:

‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’
Jesus replied: ‘‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.’ And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’” ~ Matt. 36-40

 

I, personally, find this commandment to be more difficult than the greatest commandment because I am, by nature, a task-oriented person. I have the spiritual gift of administration; thus, I see the tasks that need to be completed more clearly than most people do. However, the problem is not my awareness of necessary tasks – it’s my spiritual immaturity in regards to loving others.

I believe this is one reason God has placed me in a ministry requiring lots of personal relationship-building. On a daily basis, I am placed in a position of having to decide whether to prioritize a person or a task. My natural inclination is to prioritize the task, but that’s not God’s priority – it is always people. That’s not to say that the tasks are not important. They are! However, people are the priority, not the tasks. As I am obedient to God is following His priorities, He supernaturally provides the time to attend to the tasks. The fact that I must continually remind myself of this is an indicator of my lack of spiritual maturity in this area. As I mature, this will become less challenging for me as my priorities align with God’s.

God loves, and Jesus died for, every single person you interact with. This makes each and every person a higher priority than your to do list for the day. Of course, we need God’s wisdom and discernment for knowing how and when to interact with each person. Sometimes we need to set boundaries in regards to time and energy. However, those boundaries must align with God’s priorities and not our own. This is an area in which I am still growing, so I don’t have as many words of wisdom to offer in this area, only that I am in the trenches with you and that I need God’s help daily (hourly??) to balance prioritizing people with completing the tasks that God has placed before me.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace running with a long to-list and saying, “I’m on it!” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

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Spiritually Mature People Focus on God rather than Themselves

me_timeContinued from here.

Another aspect of making God your #1 priority is focusing on Him rather than yourself, which is another sign of someone who is spiritually mature.

What is your least favorite type of music? Let’s say your pastor announces that next Sunday’s service will feature a musical guest performing that type of music. A spiritually mature person would joyfully attend the service, grateful for all the wonderful ways that God has blessed him or her. Spiritual children would sleep in that Sunday because they don’t want to hear that type of music, even when it is offered to glorify God. Where do you fall on the continuum?

Spiritual children complain about the aspects of a church service they don’t like: the sermon was too long, they didn’t like the song selection, the church has communion too often (or not often enough), etc. They behave like consumers, expecting the service to cater to their desires and preferences. In contrast, spiritually mature people don’t look for the church service to adapt to their own preferences but, instead, ask what they can bring for God. They look for ways to honor God and express gratitude for being able to spend quality time with God and their church family, even when the music, preaching, etc. may not be their personal preference. The underlying difference is that spiritually mature people view the church service as an offering to God, not to themselves.

I had the joy of attending Easter mass outside of Venice, Italy in 2016. I don’t speak Italian, so I did not understand one word that was said. I am not Catholic, so I was excluded from taking communion. And because I am not Catholic and don’t speak Italian, I had a hard time tracking what was going on when throughout the service. Nevertheless, attending Easter mass in Italy was well worth my time, not because I got much out of it but because I had the experience of prioritizing and worshiping God, which was the value of the experience. In fact, everyone who attended with me seemed to get something out of the experience and was grateful we went. Nothing in that experience was about myself – it was all about God.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace reading a book under the words, “Me time.” Courtesy Bitmoji]

 

How Your Spend Your Time Reflects What You Value

game_timeContinued from here.

Show me how you spend your time, and I’ll tell you what you prioritize. People don’t like to hear this, but it’s true. While I would have told you that God was my number one priority, I would squeeze in my Bible study while waiting in the car line to pick up my child from school or cram it all in the night before the meeting. I did not set aside dedicated time for God. I would say my prayers as I drifted off to sleep. I would go to church on Sundays, but God was not really a part of my day-to-day life or decision-making. And yet, because I knew the Bible better than most and went to church on Sundays, I assumed I was prioritizing God.

However, you know what I did have time for? I watched my favorite television shows religiously. I faithfully set aside time to hang out with my girlfriends. I ensured I made it to the gym to exercise 4 or 5 times a week. I was strict about getting to bed on time to be sure to get the sleep my body needed. None of these priorities are “bad,” and, in fact, taking care of my body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit, is a good thing to do. However, even taking care of the temple should not take precedence over spending time with the God that the temple houses.

For God to come first, we need to place Him … well … first … ahead of everything else. Paul told us,

If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches. ~ Rom. 11:16

We can apply this verse to our time with God. When we give God the firstfruits of our day by setting aside sacred time with Him, then that firstfruits offering starts off our day in a way that directs us toward making the entire day about Him. Because our first hour of the day is holy, that holiness can spread to the other 23 hours as well.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace in a recliner with snacks above the words, “Game Time!” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Seven Fundamental Practices: Daily Quiet Time with God

no_1Continued from here.

As I shared here, other than receiving Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior, the most important decision I ever made was to spend daily quiet time with God. The Bible promises that we will find God if we will seek Him with all our hearts.

Note that seeking requires effort. When you play Hide & Seek, the seeker must make an effort to find the hider. Otherwise, the game is a waste of time. The seeker does not just go about his day and occasionally glance around. Seeking is an activity that takes effort, focus, and time.

If you are a Christian, when someone asks you what your #1 priority is, you will likely say God. However, if someone were to watch everything you do for a week, would that priority be evident in your actions? Do you set aside any time during your day for one-on-one time with God?

I didn’t! I was leading Bible studies but did not prioritize God. If you has asked me if God was the most important part of my life, I would have said yes, but my actions said otherwise. I would squeeze in doing my Bible study “homework” while waiting in the carline or cram it all in the night before we met. I would say prayers to God on the fly, mostly when I needed something. (Not to say there isn’t a place for that – I’ll get to that when I discuss prayer.)

However, I certainly set aside time to watch my favorite TV shows, to hang out with friends each week, and do other activities that I valued. Sadly, I valued them more than I valued God, and this was evidenced by the fact that I set aside regular time for those activities while squeezing in time for God.

All of this changed when I made the life decision in March 2013 to tithe the first hour of my day to God. Instead of giving God the scraps of my time, I made Him my first priority, and that was when I found Him. Of course, God was always with me, but when I started setting aside quality time with God, I started being with God.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace smiling while holding a red ribbon that says “#1.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]