“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” ~ Stephen R. Covey
You’ve probably heard the little phrase: “First things first.” That phrase makes me think of this one: “Easier said than done!” Keeping our priorities straight takes a lot of focus and discipline. Life happens fast and the tyranny of the urgent can easily turn good intentions for doing “first things first” into doing “first things last.”
At the beginning of my day, my schedule and tasks fit neatly into color coded boxes in my Google calendar. When I reflect back at the end of the day, not everything fitted as neatly in those boxes as I had planned. What happened? I lost focus and discipline to keep doing first things first.
I love the illustration that uses a jar, sand, gravel and rocks to teach the principle about always putting the big rocks in first. If you put the sand and gravel in first, the big rocks won’t fit. The illustration demonstrates the importance of giving priority to the “big rocks”. If you put the big rocks in the jar first, then the gravel and finally the sand, everything fits!
It requires discipline and planning to consistently give the most important things priority in your day. When we are rushed or overloaded, it’s easy for us to lose focus and start working on the little things and the easy things just to gain the satisfaction of getting something done. Undisciplined busyness is like putting the sand in first. We’ll never be able to fit the “big rocks” (the most important things) into our busy day when we don’t intentionally work them in first.
I must schedule the most important things into my day first. I also have to build accountability and margins into my day to help me stay focused and on track. The problems and worries that arise during the workday can easily distract me from my predetermined priorities. Jesus had to address this very issue with His disciples:
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:33-34 NASB)
Keeping first things first actually requires more than just focus and discipline. You must also seek God’s wisdom and discernment. Some divine appointments can be cleverly disguised as an interruption to your day. By simply building margins into your schedule, you will have time to prayerfully recalibrate your priorities.
It’s so much more productive to live by God’s design for your day than to just wander through it. Seek Him and His purpose for your activities and everything else will fall in place. By faith and with committed focus and discipline, serve God well today by seeking him first. Keeping Him first is the only way you can truly have a “first things first” day.