Back when I was a college student there was a notion that life is made up of a number of important things and that as Christians we needed to keep them in the right order, priority-wise. So we would dutifully list them out as columns on a grid and then write down goals under each one. This tended to work out much better on paper than in real life. Read what Dr. Richard Swenson M.D. has to say about this approach.


"Since each of us lives according to a set of priorities—whether we are aware of it or not—perhaps that is the place to start. What does your priority list look like? For those committed to ultraexcellence, one goal stands alone on the top—perhaps wealth, power, athletic success, academics, or political victory. Sequentially beneath this exalted goal are myriad subordinate goals. These form a constellation of priorities for each person. If written down, one list might look something like this: (see box at left)

"Does creating such lists help us solve our problem and lead us to biblically authentic decision making about balancing priorities? I think not. ‘A list of priorities doesn’t make sense!’ observes J. Grant Howard in Balancing Life’s Demands. ‘No matter how you define and describe your particular approach, if it is a sequential approach, it is loaded with contradictions.’ We cannot achieve balance by stacking our priorities one on top of another, even though this is a common practice. As Dr. Howard goes on to advise, it fits better to think of God as central to everything and then build outward from that point. We do not love God, then spouse, then children, then self, then church. We love God, spouse, children, self and church all at the same time."1


1 Richard A. Swenson, M.D., Margin: How To Create The Emotional, Physical, Financial, & Time Reserves You Need (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1992), 219-220.