Biblical, Fruitful Living begins with keeping your priorities in order.
It can be a frustrating thing for a woman and mama in the Lord when she wants to serve the kingdom of God with her gifts and talents, be a blessing to others, have fruitful friendships and do various good deeds, but have absolutely no sufficient time to do them! We have a knack for spreading ourselves too thin and oftentimes, we women feel the need to choose between having a quality life at home and serving excellently in our local ministries. The truth is you CAN do both. But wisdom will tell you that there is an order to things in life and that to experience fruit in any area, you need to spend the time cultivating each of those areas in order to see it.
This is where living by PRIORITIES comes in.
One of the things that I wish someone would have taken the time to really explain to me when I was a young mom is that figuring out your priorities really does matter if you want to have a fulfilling life…and if paid attention to, they can actually relieve so much pressure to ‘be it all’ and to ‘do it all’. The church culture that I have been raised up in, though wonderful in so many ways, seems to have unintentionally neglected and competed with the message of priorities to families. It’s not just women who need to hear it- Husbands and fathers need to hear it too!
Why focus on priorities?
When your priorities are in order and in alignment with God’s Word, the home and the family will not suffer. If there is chaos, if the home is in disarray, if there is stress and strife, if you’re spread too thin and can’t accomplish any one thing well- check your priorities and bring them back in line. God wants to bless you, your family and your home with His Peace- let Him by considering your priorities! Too often we are focusing on the wrong things in the wrong seasons of life. We see this in fathers who are workaholics and don’t give attention to the spiritual leadership in the home, or to spending time with his wife and family…but women are, many times, just as guilty
Too often, we are focusing on the wrong things in the wrong seasons of life. We see this in fathers who are workaholics and don’t give attention to the spiritual leadership in the home, or to spending time with his wife and family…but women are, many times, just as guilty by not giving the right attention to their family’s needs either. Years ago, the Lord dropped a truth into my heart that has helped me to evaluate what is important to me:
~You spend your time on what you value.~
If creating a godly home and family is what I value, then this is where I must spend a good amount of my time and energy. If having a fulfilling, loving marriage is important to me, then I must give my attention to it. If being Spirit-led and close to my heavenly Father is the number one priority in my life, then I need to take the time to cultivate such a relationship. It’s not an easy thing to accept or admit when you feel pulled in between too many directions and are not being effective like you had hoped, but the truth is that it all boils down to our choices, and which priorities they reflect.
Depending on the season of marriage and parenthood you are in, your priorities may vary drastically from someone else’s. A newlywed couple with no children will be able to do things that a couple with 4 small children in the home would not find practical. Empty-nesters can certainly commit to more in the ministry outside of the home than the parents who are trying to get three teenagers launched into adulthood. A single parent often has so much on their plate between work and raising their children, one of their top priorities might actually be to get rest whenever they can! Some families do really well serving in the ministry with their children, while others need to be sensitive to the needs and schedule of their family and lay outside ministry down for a season. No matter where you find yourself in life though, establishing your priorities can help to alleviate unnecessary pressure from other sources.
It’s okay to give yourself to the season in which God has you…
In our family, we chose to homeschool our children which automatically put a demand on our time that other families who do not homeschool don’t have. I realized early on, through prayer and bible study, that if we were going to raise our family this way, it would mean that I would have to say no to anything that interfered with the priorities that we felt God was calling us to. One thing the Lord showed me personally is that if He had wanted me to be a certain type of minister at that time, He probably would not have given me such a large family and called me to homeschool. He was showing me that “family” was the ministry He had chosen for me. I was feeling badly because I wasn’t ‘in ministry’ like I thought I needed to be. He is not, however, in the business of laying heavy yokes on the people in His Kingdom. When I realized that my calling during this season was primarily for my family, it relieved so much burden from me! It’s okay to give yourself to the season in which God has you. God isn’t limited by time, if He has that other thing in store for you, He will show you how to do it so that it will not compromise the priorities that He has already given you. Just ask Him to show you what His expectations are of you.
Through prayer and study of His Words, these were the things I felt God wanted me to focus on and claim as my priorities:
My Relationship with Him– Most Christians will back me up on this one, but I soon found that if I wasn’t careful, the precious time needed to spend with the Lord and in His Word could quickly get eaten up by morning phone calls and visits from friends, family members who ‘needed’ me to do something for them, errands and other distractions. Even my own children and my own personal to-do list could place a demand on my time that would prevent me from nurturing my relationship with Him. When I am paying attention to my priorities, I put Him first and my relationship with the Lord is strengthened and I am better equipped to face everything else in life.
My Relationship with my Husband– Date Nights are great and we take them as often as we can, but nurturing my relationship with my husband is so much more than a date night. I am his helpmeet- and when I am fulfilling that role on a daily basis, it takes some time and effort! There are several things I do to be a help to my husband: I listen when he needs to talk, I am often his sounding board for new ideas, vision and life matters. We pray with and for each other, and take the time to do it. I care for many of his day-to-day needs, like laundry, meals, the home environment, errands, phone calls, etc…he works hard and provides for our family so I can stay home with our children, He is my go-to counselor as the head of our home and my closest earthly friend…we are true partners. Some people feel this is very old-fashioned, I personally feel that God has shown me to come alongside him as his partner in life. My husband and I have seen the fruit of this choice in our marriage- we have deep respect for each other, our love for each other grows richer and richer each year, we have been united in the face of great adversity and have withstood the test, and the ministry between us is powerful and anointed. We are truly fulfilled in our marriage. None of this is possible without making the decision to nurture our relationship with each other and to honor each other in our daily living.
My Relationship with my Children– It’s very easy to go through our days working on the house and homeschooling and parenting, but not to work on our friendship with our children. I am the type of mother who can develop tunnel vision on all our goals and forget that my kids just need me to be their friend. I have SIX children and each of them needs me to connect with them on a personal level as often as possible. One might need me to sit down and problem-solve something with them, another might want me to play a quick video game with them. Another needs to show me something they’ve created and still, another might need me to let them in to sit on the edge of my bed at 11 pm at night for a talk and prayer. There are some days when I am overwhelmed and I feel like I can’t do enough to be there for each one, but I know if I keep trying, the effort will be totally worth it. I have a question that I always ask myself: “Do I really know this child’s heart on __________.” If I can’t confidently answer that question, then I need to get to know my child more. I need to be their friend more, to know their heart more, to have a deeper, more rewarding relationship with them in order to enjoy that fruit later on. It takes TIME.
Duties at Home- One of the most tangible ways that we can minister to our families is through the caring of our homes and running the home life efficiently. I am not talking about having a picture-perfect, super clean home that could be featured in Better Homes and Gardens magazine. If you are able to do that– awesome! I’m not there yet, but I try to have things, and people, cleaned and sanitized regularly, good meals planned and prepared, scheduling done efficiently, and schooling and family time nurtured. I’ve moved into the ‘I just want home to be home, and I want it to be comfortable’ stage. It’s also important for our home to run efficiently and to work for us as a family, so I am always looking to improve on that area. Better Homes and Gardens can come later after the babies are gone, but for now, I have declared our home for LIVING and Fruit-Cultivating.
Homeschool– This takes up a good chunk of our days and it doesn’t stop after our ‘schooling’ is done for the day. I think that’s where a lot of people misunderstand homeschoolers the most. Homeschooling is not a time slot in our day, it is our lifestyle. If one of our kiddos gets curious about something on a Saturday, at 6 pm, we don’t tell them to wait until Monday for when we ‘do school’. Because this is one of our family’s priorities, I am always looking to make our home environment and lifestyle conducive to learning. I am constantly re-evaluating the environment in our home, various resources, curriculum, supplies, organization, etc… just like a teacher would in her or his classroom. It is work and it is a necessary priority if learning is to take place. Currently, I am always looking to incorporate more art into our home, so I’ve been slowly adding supplies, books, and stations around the house to be discovered by the children. Homeschooling for us is much more than a lesson in a book, it’s nurturing learning at all times and takes a lot more effort than one would think.
As you can probably already tell- my God-given and personal priorities don’t leave much time for anything else at the end of the day! I know it won’t be like this forever- though it is hard to imagine now, a day will come when homeschooling ceases in my home and I will have a huge chunk of time added to my days! (I seriously can’t even picture that in my head right now!) My season will change and so will some of my priorities and I’ll move on in the Lord to do different works for Him.
If you are struggling in the area of your priorities and not sure what you should, or shouldn’t, put your hand to, here’s what might help:
- Take some time to pray and seek the scriptures about your current station in life. If you’re a wife and mama to littles like me, then some of your priorities are already addressed in scripture and you have a job to do. If you are working mom of college students, then your priorities may be just slightly different as far as your schedule. Older woman with no children at home? Then God may have a specific church or street ministry in mind for you…
- Give yourself permission to let go of the pressure to be everything and to ‘do it all’. Learn to give God all of your dreams and ambitions, to work out in His timing, so that you can focus on what should matter now.
- Once you know what your priorities should be for the current season you are in, develop an action plan. Do you need to give God the first part of your day? Do you need to start working on a friendship with your children, or nurturing your marriage more? Is your house in need of a good decluttering to free you from stress in your environment? Start working on those things now to work toward the life that God is showing you He wants you to have.
- Identify and Eliminate the distractions and hindrances that compete with your priorities. This is a huge game changer for most women. Be willing to lay some things down in order to enter into a more productive season.
- Commit to your priorities for the long haul. God wants you to have a fruitful and satisfying life. He doesn’t want you to feel like you are not enough or that you cannot be enough. Setting priorities hones your focus to primary things in life that will make a lasting difference for you and your family.
- Finally, enjoy the gentle yoke of the Lord. Slow down enough to find joy in your work. When I “rest” in my priorities, I find that I am rewarded with moments of joy in my journey.
Having my priorities in order has provided me with rest, peace and joy in my life and it can for you too! I no longer feel trapped by unrealistic expectations of myself to “be more” and to “do more”. I am able to respectably say “No.” to the things that don’t fit in with my current season guilt-free. Because I have taken the time with the Lord to seek out what He expects of me, I no longer allow others’ expectations of me to weigh me down and place unnecessary burdens upon me or my family.
In a nutshell, having priorities in order gives freedom and rest.
“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” -Matthew 11:30
Lord, help me to seek You about what my priorities should be. Help me to lay down unrealistic expectations about my life and help me to see Your plan for me in this season. I pray for your wisdom and guidance and I seek to be fruitful in You. In Jesus Name, Amen.