First Things First

boss-fight-free-high-quality-stock-images-photos-photography-man-beach-ocean-looking-out.jpgI’m not sure about you, but I tend to get my priorities mixed up at times. From being with my family, spending time at the office, giving my heart in discipleship to members of the church, trying to find some time to go to the gym, and so much in between, life can be busy. Busy is actually a terrible word, life can be full or fruitful.

It’s these moments of fullness and being stretched that we tend to find our priorities getting out of alignment. What once was important and essential can easily become common and an afterthought. Especially when it comes to leading in ministry, we’re tempted everyday to lose sight of the main thing.

Stephen Covey once said, “The key is not to priorities your schedule but schedule your priorities.” In other words, intentionally make time for the things that really matter in life. It’s a discipline that goes undervalued in our world. We’re always going and doing, that we subtly ignore and sometimes devalue the things that are important.

The disciples of Jesus were prone to this same type of thinking. They’d go from moments of complete devotion and adoration of Jesus into seasons of trying to figure things out on their own and even sometimes resting in their own strength. The more they accomplished, the more stressful it became to prioritize. In one portion of Scripture, which is actually the beginning of their earthly walk with Christ, Jesus alludes to what the main thing is when it comes to ministry.

14 And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons. – Mark 3:14-15 (ESV)

Jesus gives us a picture of three things He calls the disciples to do: be with him, get sent out to preach, and have authority to cast out demons. Interestingly enough, these seem to be in an intentional order. While preaching and demonstrating the power of God may be attractive to all of us, the primary responsibility of any leader, and any Christian for that matter, is to be with Jesus. 

I’m Not In A Hurry

Are you a morning person or a night person? Whatever the case is, there’s probably something you do for a living that causes you to be that way. And that’s okay. But when it gets time to rise and grind, is Jesus something you throw on as your run out the door, or is there a genuine, tangible, edifying time of surrender that you have with Him daily? You’ll always reflect what you’re spending the most time looking at.

No matter how much we try, we can’t do anything without Jesus. He’s the reason we lead, He’s the example we follow, and He’s the source of our strength. It seems like a simple reminder, but I’m so guilty of forgetting this main thing: be with Jesus. 

We know this is important if Jesus stressed it in the original recruitment of His disciples. He did say that they would do great things; they’d get sent out to preach the Gospel, they’d have authority to do the supernatural, but none of that would be possible without being with Him. Taking the time to watch Him,  learn from Him, love Him and then lead with Him.

Pastor, leader, follower, whatever capacity you serve with, never lose sight of the main thing: being with Jesus. Of course your schedule is going to be full, and there’s always going to be more things to do, but if you and I spend too much time on our output we’ll forget about our input. Jesus refreshes us when we’re with Him, He’s redirects it when we’re off track, and He reveals to us what’s next. All this only comes from being with Him.

Being with Him is not an strenuous, legalistic venture. It’s a time of affirmation, acceptance, and approval. It’s where you discover who He is and in turn find out who you are. It’s very easy to get caught up in doing for Jesus that we forget the importance and freedom that comes from being with Jesus. Being with Him leads to knowing who we are in Him which eventually manifests into what we do for Him.

The disciples came home from casting out demons one day all excited and proud of their accomplishments. Jesus quickly refocuses them on what really matters:

Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” – Luke 10:20 (NKJV)

In others words, what you do for Him is not as big as who you are in Him.

Being with Jesus usually requires an adjustment from us. For my wife and I we noticed how tired we were in the mornings, that our prayer time was being rushed. So, we decided to start getting to bed earlier. Maybe on your way to work is your prayer time, maybe on your lunch break, maybe at the end of your day. Whatever it is, know this. It’s not how long you’re with Jesus, it’s how much He’s impacting you, changing you, and moving you to where you’re supposed to be.

We love you, we believe in you, we’re praying for you!