Having grown up in the Church, I have heard what I like to call the “Priority Mantra” more times than I can count. This is the principle that our major life priorities should fall in this order: God first, spouse second, children third.
It always seemed like a simple concept, and one which made complete sense to my heart. The thing is, I was never taught how to apply it. Over the course of a few short years, our wedding bells rung and our first son was born. I quickly found myself in a whirlwind, unsure of how to navigate my walk with Jesus amidst such sudden change in my personal life.
As many wives and mothers do, I felt pulled in innumerable directions. When I felt like I was succeeding as a mom, my marriage was playing second fiddle. When I would try to take time for self-care, I experienced some guilt over not providing my child as much as I could. Throw in the sleep deprivation, mental fog, and a shift in lifestyle, and I found myself way off track from where I’d envisioned I should be in my spiritual walk.
Can you guess what the first thing was to fall off my daily routine?
Time in the Word.
Praying. Reading. Being still. It went out the window and I justified it by using lack of sleep as an excuse. Little did I realize that this was the season of life where I needed this time more than ever before. I needed a pouring in to my soul, when all I was doing was pouring out in my own strength.
It wasn’t until I began to intentionally seek the Lord again some months later that it started to become clear – He was the foundation I was missing all along. He never left me…I simply chose not to pursue Him as I knew I needed to. I got stuck. My mind was burdened, my heart was anxious, my body was tired, all because my priorities were disordered.
In Luke 14:26, Jesus says, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not *hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life [in the sense of indifference to or relative disregard for them in comparison with his attitude toward God]—he cannot be My disciple.” (AMP)
(*An exaggerated figure of speech indicating a lesser degree of love, not actual hostility or aversion toward one’s earthly family)
While speaking into anxiety, Jesus states in Matthew 6:33, “But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.”
These words are not easy, but they are life. Jesus is simple and clear here, yet you can be certain that this is a challenge, particularly in light of the culture we live in.
So what does the “Priority Mantra” actually look like when lived out in the life of a disciple? Putting God first looks a whole lot like pursuing His heart and character as we bestow His love and grace on our spouses and children. It also means that we are called to seek God before we seek the needs of our families. We are called to have a lesser degree of love for our earthly families compared to the love we have for our Heavenly Father. Our attitude toward God should be so grand and vast in comparison to anyone or anything in this world.
Please do not misread this – Jesus is NOT telling us to forsake our families. He wants us to love and serve and steward one another more than words can express. However, we cannot do this in a way that is pleasing to Him without putting him under, over, in, and around all of it, and all of us. This is the Creator of the universe we’re talking about! He is the only One worthy of all our honor, worship, and praise. What’s more, He longs to provide for us – all we need and more. He wants to give us His Kingdom! Let’s not take that lightly.
This is key to reordering our priorities. It doesn’t mean spending “quiet time” in the morning as a way to check a box (which I may be the most guilty of), or being sure we have a weekly date night with our spouse to make ourselves feel better about our life balance. Getting our major life priorities in check means the full on, constant pursuit of God in every way. When He pours into us, His character will surely pour out of us – onto our spouses, and then onto our children.
This Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to take a look inside your heart. How have your thoughts, time, and actions reflected the current order of your priorities? I am challenged by this constantly, and I hope you are too.
I invite you to pray the following with me…
Father, I thank you for your Word. I thank you for knowing the deepest workings of my heart. You wired me and you know me better than I know myself. I cannot truly change my perspectives and priorities apart from You. I invite your Spirit to come and change me from the inside out. Teach me how to seek you, know you, and love you in deeper, more profound ways. Show me how to pour out your great love, grace, and service to my family, as I aim to point back to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.