Become a Fan
Do you struggle with establishing healthy priorities in your life? You are not alone and there is simple help available. Take a moment to read the following that can leave a healthy legacy of relationship with those about whom you deeply care.
There have been a host of studies conducted over the years that tell us we all struggle with the concept of that which constitutes proper priorities in life. We all face this reality in that we realize persistent mental, emotional and spiritual battles that demand our time and energy at the expense of other desires, needs, and wants. These “priority war zones” even pull us away from those around us whom we hold dear such as spouses and children. How do we find the proper priorities in life that have the potential to leave a legacy to those we leave behind when our lives succumb to the reality of death? The following will seek to expose the priorities that matter when it’s all said and done and how we can make the shift to meaningful results.
It is interesting to note that, in nearly all of these studies, the priorities tend to shift as we age. In our younger years we are more self-focused and, as a result, are more concerned with personal accomplishment, self-satisfaction and pleasure, individual goals and the accumulation of “things” by which the world tends to measure success. The driving “force” within tends to seek this idea of fulfillment at all cost, including at the expense of others. Both spouses will often be working full-time jobs in order to attain that elusive goal of accumulation. Over the past few decades a notion has risen in the minds of those under the age of thirty that they should be able to be fully successful and financially independent by the age of thirty and no later than thirty-five. The level of mental and emotional stress that is caused by such an unrealistic expectation has led to many suffering from a deep sense of failure and subsequent depression.
The tragedy is that this entire notion is tied to a misunderstood and misguided concept of how the world measures personal worth. The world wrongly bases the value of a person by his/her successes, accomplishments, achievements and the sum of the possessions he/she accumulates. People are “rated” by their vocation, the amount of money they have, the home in which they dwell, the vehicles they drive, the clothes they wear, the collegiate degrees they have received, the organizations to which they belong, the success of their children and the “toys” in the driveway. Since our self-esteem tends to be based upon that which we believe others think of us, it is easy to understand why our priorities are so “skewered” in terms of what really matters.
The problem continues for those who are between thirty and fifty years of age as we seem to be slow learners. Both spouses continue the employment “rat race” yet all the while not realizing the love that brought them to the altar years before is gradually being replaced by their jobs. Instead of drawing closer to each other with the passing years they find their worth in their work instead of each other. And, all this is being done at the unintentional expense of their children. Rather than attending a child’s soccer match, they have business meetings that vie for their time and subtly promise personal success. They make plans to see that their child gets to and from the match with others, but never share in the play of the child. They create no deep and lasting bonds with the child because there is nothing in common except that they share the same physical address according to postal records. The national average of actual meaningful conversation between a parent and a child each day is about three to seven minutes. How can we wonder why our youth have little to do with their parents?
As we begin the walk into our fifties, the studies show we begin to see our priorities differently. Harry and Sandy Chapin’s telling tune of over thirty years ago, “Cat’s In the Cradle,” comes home to roost in our hearts and we realize why our children, now grown, married and with children of their own, tell us they are too busy to spend time with us. Sandy Chapin, Harry’s wife who actually wrote the poem from which the song evolved, says, “I think the reason people responded (to the song) and continue to respond is because it is a real life story, and everybody has a piece of that experience. The whole point of the story is that we learn our lessons in life by making mistakes, by trial and error, by experience. It would be great if we could learn about the future ahead of time, but we have to learn the hard way. It’s like the old saying – too old too soon, too wise too late.”
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way! We can all make the change beginning today! We have to choose to commit to change knowing that time with spouse, children, parents and meaningful others – to be in relationship – will have greater impact than any other thing we can accomplish in this life. The Bible revealed long ago the standard for personal priority. We are told that our relationship with God is the first priority, followed by our spouse and, thirdly, our children. All else follows behind at a distance. There is no job, no accomplishment, no position, and no amount of money or things – anything in the world – that can replace the legacy of relationship.
I’ve been there; I’ve “bought” the shirt; I’ve worn the shirt so I do indeed understand. There are many times when I have failed miserably and wish I could turn back the clock. I also recognize that it’s a daily battle that I must face head on and make a decision to do what’s right, what really matters. There are days the grass needs cut but spending unhurried time sitting on the porch with my sons or my wife sows eternal results. God will never ask me if I mowed the lawn, if I received my master’s degree, ask about the organizations of which I have been a part, inquire about the size of my pension fund, ask to see the stack of certificates of achievement in my file cabinet or request a detailed description of how the world sees me. Rather, He will ask me if I gave my wife the time and attention she needed and deserved, if I took time to play with my children, if I took family vacations and left work at home and if I stopped what I was doing and gave my loved ones my time, my attention, my help, and myself. Did I make relationship the foundation of my existence as He has done for us?
Today is the day of decision. It’s very similar to the question Joshua posed to the nation of Israel when he challenges them to “choose this day whom you will serve” and subsequently follows with his personal decision which is “but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). With minor adjustment we can remain true to the Biblical principle if we ask ourselves, “Choose this day your priorities but as for me I will choose God’s priorities.” Blessings to you as you choose to live life to the full and leave a legacy!
©2006 Mel Menker
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