Getting Our Relational Priorities Straight!

For the past couple of months, I watched a couple of YouTube videos and the content creator dropped a mention about prioritizing their time and relationships. It seems their work is having a negative effect on their spouse and family.

Does this sound like you? Who has first place on your list of priorities? Is it God? Your spouse? Is it your work? Keep in mind, you may say one thing; however, other people may see differently than you.

It is not my goal to beat you, over the head with a “To Do” list. Rather, I would like to offer some suggestions made by friends. They have been married for over 50 years and it’s worth listening to.

Even if, you are not a professing believer in Christ, I believe you will appreciate what I’m going to share. It all begins with a lopsided pyramid. I’d encourage you to look at the accompanying image. Should not our spousal relationship be at the top? 

What do you suppose will happen, if this is a literal pyramid? It would come crashing down and leave a horrendous mess. Yes, I am a blogger and it is a job and I do enjoy it. However, it should never come at the expense of God, family, friends and so forth.

I got the image from Sydney Couple and Family Blog and it is featured in an article called “How To Prioritize Your Relationship“. I agree with the author that the image is a sad reflection of modern life. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Keep in mind, an unbalanced priority list can have a chilling effect on your marital relationship.

The author of that article did offer some tips and ideas that may be of help. As for me, I’d like to show a different and balanced pyramid. It’s the one that I’ll be working with.

This image shows a more balanced priority pyramid. It is a good reflection of a balanced Christian life that includes our everyday life. There is one key difference between this pyramid and the other pyramid. If you’re a follower of Jesus then I’d encourage you to make God, the top priority.

How do you do this? I have friends who are extremely busy and I’m amazed they have a chance to breathe. If you have such a schedule, I do get it. However, we still need to consciously place God, first in our life. It begins with setting aside quiet time. Some friends make a point to rise earlier and talk with God, the Father. Why early? 

They are parents and a house full of kids.  If they did not make this commitment then they would never have time. Because they value their relationship with God, the Father; they make an effort to get up and spend some time with Jesus.  I have been inspired by this and sought to make this a part of my own life.

How do you cultivate a relationship; as opposed to a religious habit? Though challenging, it is important to make a conscious decision to spend time with Jesus. It all begins with a conversation with Jesus through the Holy Spirit.

Yes, a conversation with the Father. It is precisely what prayer is all about. Of course, you do need to quiet down and listen to what God is saying. If you do so, I’d encourage you to be sincere about it. It may sound quaint; however, it is a true statement. Go with the expectation of hearing from the Father. Don’t be afraid to ask God for help with this.

You could say, “God, I do want to hear from you. I know that I should be expectant; however, I am going to need your help.” It’s called a baby step. God is not opposed to these steps; especially if you are totally new to the idea. What about reading the Bible and journaling?

For me, I use an audio Bible with a Bible reading plan. If needed, I’ll pause the recording and talk with God about what I’m hearing. You can do the same thing and not use a reading plan. When I first started reading my Bible, I just read the entire Bible or listen to it. A reading plan simply makes it more interesting. If interested, I’d suggest Nicky Gumbel’s “Read the Bible in One Year” reading plan.

What about the other segments of the pyramid? In the second slot, it is your family and home. Keep in mind, jobs and churches can come and go; however, you can’t change your family. It is the only family that you have. Treasure the time you have with your spouse and children. Why? You do not know how long you will have them, in your life.

My father passed away, 17 years ago. I would have loved for my dad to see my first book and the work I’m doing on this blog. Of course, my father’s interest would have been in politics. He died of a heart aneurysm and he died at the age of 61. Thankfully, God gave me a chance to say, “I love you”.  Don’t waste an opportunity to spend time with your family.

It should take a higher priority than church, ministry, and work. Remember, you married your wife and she is the one, we’re to be faithful to. We’re not supposed to marry our church, ministry or our jobs. If you are having trouble with drawing healthy boundaries then I’d encourage you to seek a wise and trusted counselor.

I would say prayer; however, we can easily deceive ourselves and falsely claim God is okay with it. It is why I’d encourage you to talk with a trusted friend or a good pastor, who is willing, to be honest. Here are a couple of tips that can help strengthen your relationship with your wife and kids.

Ever thought of taking your wife out on a date? I am serious. This tip has been mentioned in a few sermons that I’ve heard. Once a week, you and your wife leave the kids at a babysitter and go to a restaurant. The idea is to spend time together and talk. Though I suggest that you put the phone on mute and don’t even think about text messaging.

The key is, you are to spend time with your spouse and no one else. As for kids, I do appreciate the time my mother came to the various events I was a part of. Plus, I have plenty of fun memories of fishing and boating with my father. Did I also mention sledding down a steep hill?  Do you get the ideas? It’s been over 40 years and I can still recall those memories.

If you looked at the above diagram then you will notice two things. Church and ministries are listed as third place and work is in 4th place.  For me, this placement is debatable. Why do say this? It depends largely on the circumstances of one’s job.

If you are in a caregiver type job then you probably need to work on weekends. The same thing goes for other nursing type positions. Guess what day tends to have the most needs? Yes, it is Sunday. I have friends in this industry and I’m glad when they can marry both work and church. It is not always possible, though.

I would like to point something out. If you are a caregiver at a group home or nursing home then you are already fulfilling the third slot. You are ministering to people who most need an encounter with Jesus through you.  As for fellowship, a church is a community of believers. Why not arrange to connect on a different day?

If you have a job that honestly requires working on a Sunday then I suggest looking for solutions. For instance, you could go to an early service and head over to work at the restaurant. I really can’t fault waiters and waitresses for working on Sunday; as they are a popular place to go, after church.

Aren’t we supposed to rest on the seventh day? The seventh day is meant to be set apart for a specific purpose. It is supposed to be a day of rest from six long days of work. Without it, you and I will burn out. It is for this reason, the church is given the 3rd section.

Even if you are not a Christian, I would encourage you to take a day of rest. You will be glad that you did. You can use it, as a time to spend with your family.

As for the bottom segment, I will let you figure it out. From what I can see, this segment is related to fun activities. Yes, we do need to have some fun and enjoy life. Go outside for a walk. Watch a good movie or read a book. Do something that is fun and it doesn’t cause you to get into trouble. 

If you are struggling in any of these areas then I will encourage you to seek God, the Father. Ask God to help you in prioritizing your time and relationships. For me, it is not an overnight thing. It takes determination and a willingness to do the work.

Barry Brindisi

Author of “You Are Not A Lesser Human”.

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