Paying Attention to Priorities
by Karin Sasser
I married a man who some might call a sports fanatic. We both attended the same college, which happened to have a premiere basketball program. In the fall, many of our Saturdays are scheduled around football games. In the spring, March Madness takes over the television in our house. While March Madness has been coined to describe the frenetic activity of a month-long basketball tournament, I think it also aptly describes the pace of our lives at times. Our lives sometimes reflect college basketball tournament play – the anticipation, excitement, loud noise, cheers, jeers, distractions, hard work, victories, and defeats. While some of these things may be good and others not so much, all of it can detract our focus and hinder us from keeping the first things first.
Spoiler alert ahead as to which university my husband and I attended. He has a t-shirt that reads:
It’s pretty close to accurate as to his priorities. I think all of us would agree that God should come first in our lives and that family should be next almost always. So how can we support the families in our ministry to strive for these same priorities, particularly in the midst of the madness we call life?
When it comes to helping parents prioritize God first, you have the opportunity to encourage parents to be spiritual leaders in their teens’ lives. Remind them that one of the best ways to have spiritual influence in the lives of their kids is to pursue their own relationship with God. It is critical that they make time and space to worship, talk to and listen to God. Remind them how important it is to lead by example and that, as the Spirit works in their lives, He will also lead them in leading their kids.
When it comes to helping parents prioritize family, consider looking at your ministry program calendar and evaluating if the number of programs and activities you provide is beneficial or if the sheer number may be adding to the frenzy of pace in families’ lives. What if you intentionally took a night off from your regular Wednesday or Sunday night programming and encouraged families to spend that time together? It might also be helpful to ask parents if any of your programming is competing for family time.
In the midst of what I assume is also your busy life, we would encourage you to take time to evaluate your priorities as well. As a youth worker, I’m sure you spend a good amount of time thinking about God and preparing messages or Bible studies. If we’re not careful, we can be lulled into believing this serves the same purpose as our own personal devotional time with God. How often do you find yourself reading scripture, and your thoughts stray to how you could use the passage as a teaching moment for your leaders or students? It can be very difficult to separate our personal walk with God and our ministry, but it is important to do so. It is imperative to take time and space to meet with God with no other agenda than to hear from Him what He wants to speak into our own lives – not the lives of those to whom we minister. You may also want to consider evaluating where your family currently stands on your list of priorities. One of the traps Satan so often tries to set is the belief that ministry is our first priority – even before our family. Sometimes we need to be reminded that our ministry for God is different and separate from our relationship with God; therefore, our ministry shouldn’t take precedence over our family very often. What is something your family could do together this month to strengthen your relationships with one another?
Some of you reading this may be in a stage of life in which you do not have a spouse and children, but community is still extremely important. We would encourage you to make time to nurture friendships and build relationships. God places a high value on people doing life together!
This season we encourage you to take time to spend with God, your family, and/or your community, and if it is something you enjoy, maybe even watch a college basketball game or two!