The holiday season can be a hectic time if we aren’t careful. How do we prevent post-holiday blues? How do we keep first things first?
Greg McKeown, the author of the book Essentialism, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, suggests an interesting barometer for evaluating our decisions. Consider the people who will gather around your deathbed. That relatively small group identifies the important people in your life. Now evaluate your choices by how they affect them.
I found McKeown’s thoughts to be a great clarifier. Too often, I’ve let the wrong people and activities absorb my time and focus.
McKeown pointed out that the word priority was singular until the 1900s. Now we speak of priorities (plural). How can anyone have many “first” things?
His words reminded me of Jesus’ discussion with Martha the day she was “worried and bothered about so many things.” You can read about the scene in Luke 10:38-42.
Martha was preparing a meal for at least fourteen men. She assumed her sister would help. But Mary wanted to listen to Jesus.
Finally, Martha could stand it no more. Clanging pots hadn’t gotten their attention, so she stomped into the room and wagged her finger at Jesus. She told Him if He cared about what was fair He’d make Mary help her. Whoa! Not a pretty scene. Yet to be honest, at times I’ve felt like Martha.
We know Martha loved Jesus. She’d welcomed Him and His hungry disciples into her home. But the distraction of many things blurred her focus. She stopped serving and began to boss her Lord and her sister. Listen to the Lord’s gentle rebuke:
“Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary” (Luke 10:41-42, NASB).
What is the one thing that comes before all else? Jesus tells us in another Scripture: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-39, NASB).
To love God comes first. Yet during the holidays—holy days—Jesus often gets what’s left over. When we seek Him first, love and order naturally follow.
Martha opened her home in love, but her work pulled her into another goal. She let her service draw her away into production.
It takes effort to keep the first thing first. Martha learned and continued to open her home and serve but with a better attitude. Her change allowed Mary the freedom to display her love for Jesus before He faced the cross (John 12:2-7).
Let me suggest two habits to protect our priority.
- Ask God to speak to you each morning. Then do one or more of the following:
- Read the next verses in a book of the Bible you’re studying.
- Read a devotional like Daily Light.
- Work in a Bible Study.
- Listen to the audio Bible at someplace like Biblegateway.com.
- Journal.This can be short but include thanksgivings and petitions.
These two simple habits remind me of what matters most and help me stay on course. They also keep this Martha merry all year round!
What is your one priority? How do you keep it first?