In his novel The Mysterious Island, author Jules Verne writes about five men who hijack a balloon to escape from prison. It rose in the air and the wind soon blew it out over the ocean, but as the journey continues the balloon began to lose altitude. The men soon realized they are going to crash into the surface of the ocean and possibly drown unless they discard some weight from the basket of their balloon. They began by tossing out the non-essentials; shoes, weapons, coats, and the balloon rose once again, but only temporarily. As they sank toward the water once again, they had to lose more weight. They concluded it was better to continue in the air hungry than to drown, so they threw their food overboard and, ultimately, even their gold. Still, the balloon continued to descend, so they decided to cut the ropes holding the very basket they were standing in, leaving them clinging to the meshes. The balloon rose and they survived until they finally spotted land.
Those men were taught a lesson about priorities we’d do well to learn. As long as the gas in the balloon kept them at a comfortable altitude, they kept things in the basket that seemed essential to them. Yet they quickly realized their true priorities as they sank toward certain death in the ocean. What they thought was essential became trivial and was quickly discarded.
Priorities affect the composition of your life. The shapes and pieces God is working with are a direct result of your priority choices on your Life Palette. In Romans 6:16, Paul tells you why this is so critical to your life’s composition: “Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.”
A person’s priorities are clearly seen not by what they say they want to achieve, but what they actually do. For instance, if a person says their marriage is a priority in their life and they love their spouse but have an extramarital affair once a year, then it’s clear that having a healthy marriage is not a true priority.
Determining your priorities
While I’m not going to give you a list of priorities for your life, I do want to give you a starting point that will help you focus or realign your priorities on your Life Palette. Paul shows you where to begin when he says, “This is the secret: Christ lives in you…” (Colossians 1:27) That’s the basis for a great life composition. The next step is to spend time prayerfully considering what priorities God would have you set. James 1:5 says, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” God wants to instruct you in your priorities. He is the ultimate source of guidance and He has revealed Himself clearly through His Word. Confirm what you sense through prayer by comparing it with the Bible. He will never go against Scripture.
1. Look To God As The Artist Of Your Life
I can’t tell you how many times as a pastor I’ve had someone tell me they are considering leaving their spouse because they’ve found someone else and ask me to join them in prayer. Amazingly, they’re stunned when I tell them I won’t pray for them and that, frankly, they can quit praying themselves about it because God has already made Himself very clear about the sanctity of marriage. So as you are seeking God for His priorities for your Life Palette, know what He has already revealed in His Word. “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.” (Ephesians 5:15) The New King James version of that verse says to “walk circumspectly.”
2. Seek Wise Counsel
You should also seek wise counsel from others as you seek His priorities for your Life Palette, but be warned: wise counsel only comes from wise people. It’s dangerous to seek the counsel of someone who will just agree with you. Often the best advice is contrary to your own desires. The apostle Paul himself sought the wise counsel of the other disciples in Acts 9 after spending three years praying and preparing for ministry.
3. Narrow Your Focus
Finally, ask God to help you drill down your priorities to only a few. We live in a day and time where we celebrate multitasking and think we can do it all. I find it interesting that the person who is usually trying to do way too much is usually the one trying to convince me they’re great at multitasking. Typically, we are not as good at it as we think we are and the results prove it. We end up being mediocre at many things. As my dad use to say, “Jack of all trades, master of none.”