The Value of Having Priorities and Goals

imagesI am now nearly 50 years old. I have been a Christian for 32 of those years. I have been in ministry of some sort all 32 of those years and in full-time ministry for over 23 years. A blog post from Nancy Leigh DeMoss recently inspired[1] me to set down on paper my life goals and priorities.

Very early in my Christian life, I set Colossians 1:10 as my “life verse”. My hope and desire has been to “…walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” That has put tracks down upon which I can live my life. It has placed markers to my life that I can look to and ask, “Am I doing that? Am I living that way?” I have come back to it many times over the years.

But I’ve never set specific goals or priorities related to that verse. And now that I am older and having recently preached on Matthew 22:37-39, I wonder if that passage serves as a better “big picture” verse from which might flow my life goals. (Better late than never, right?) In that passage Jesus answers a “big picture” question about what is the single, great commandment of the Bible. His answer? “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Using Jesus’ profoundly simple answer as my guide, here are the priorities I see in Matthew 22:37-39 for my life as a follower of Jesus…

1st Priority: To love God passionately with all my heart, soul, mind, body, and strength.

2nd Priority: To love people deeply at the same level that I love myself.

But I see room for one more “big picture” priority for my life. Jesus gives us our walking orders in Matthew 28:19-20, want has been called the Great Commission…”Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Therefore, a third priority…

3rd Priority: To love God’s disciple-making work wholeheartedly wherever he puts me.

Yet, as they sit, each of these three “big picture” priorities begs for specifics! How can I give them “teeth”? How can I evaluate if I am being faithful to them? Here’s my attempt at that:

Love God Passionately

  • To be fully satisfied in God’s presence – to know that he is all I need; to enjoy him, to treasure him singularly above all others.
  • To learn the art of consistent, joy-filled private worship – knowing that all of my life is worship. It’s why I exist.
  • To learn the art of consistent, joy-filled public worship – at home, and with other believers.
  • To be a lifelong student of God’s Word – loving it deeply and knowing it thoroughly and intimately.
  • To learn to “pray without ceasing” – developing trust in his provision that emboldens me to pray sincere prayers of faith.

Love People Deeply

  • To always be loving people selflessly and sacrificially – as Jesus does for me – Christian or non-Christian.
  • To be around God’s people so that I can practice the “one another” commands of the Bible.
  • To have a “Paul” in my life to provide mentoring for me; to have a “Jonathan” in my life that comes alongside and encourages faithfulness; to have a “Timothy” in my life that I am mentoring and reproducing my life into.

Love God’s Work Wholeheartedly

  • To be committed to sharing the gospel with those who are not followers of Jesus – the evangelism side of disciple making.
  • To be committed to teaching, preaching, mentoring believers into maturity – the growth side of disciple making.
  • To become a “World Christian” – knowing about, praying for, supporting, the movement of God’s Spirit around the world.

Obviously, even these specifics could be developed. That is what I do on a monthly basis when I detail specific action points that I will take to achieve the larger goals. This I actually have been doing fairly regularly over the years. But it is so nice to have these “big picture” priorities standing as foundation blocks under those action items, reminding me, “This is why I am doing this.”

As a follower of Jesus, all of these priorities and sub-priorities are lifelong commitments; they are in effect until death. There is no retirement from them. They transcend age, vocation, and seasons of life – they are my mission until Jesus returns, or calls me home! May his grace strengthen me for a life of faithfulness!

[1] “My Dad’s Impromptu Challenge,” blog post by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, originally published June 14, 2014.