This semester of school has really forced me to look at my priorities. In past semesters my work load has been light enough that staying up for a late night gaming session with my friends usually happened a couple of times or more a week. In past semesters I have never really felt truly compelled to complete assignments early because I knew that I would have enough time to get them done closer to the due date. In past semesters I have not spent nearly as many days and weekends driving back and forth to Oklahoma for various things (a task that is both time consuming and exhausting). No, this semester is different. It’s called fifteen hours of graduate work on top of preaching more than I ever have and trying to finish up a packet so that I can become a Chaplain.
While all the stress related to a ridiculous amount of school work is not fun, it has forced me to examine my priorities and begin to start some new habits. Here’s what I’ve had to do to maintain my sanity:
1. Video game playing has largely become a Friday evening activity. I simply have too much to do during the week to justify spending much more time than that on it. Plus time spent playing video games is time that is not spent with my wife and I have been trying to make the most of our time before our new addition arrives next spring.
2. My wife and I normally start our day at 6:30am. For the last couple of weeks I have been getting up at 6:00 am. Why? Well, that is the best time for me to read the Bible and pray. It has made a great difference in my outlook for each day since I have been starting them by focusing on God and in praying for others and myself. I never thought I would be one to get up early in order to get in some devotional time, but I have discovered that it is very valuable and I love that everything is still quiet that early (a rarity indeed when you live in the 4th largest metro area in the U.S.) and I’m really able to focus on reading and prayer.
3. We continue to make church and small group attendance a priority. Christians need the learning, fellowship, encouragement, and accountability that comes with regularly meeting with other believers for worship and discussion. Church attendance is not optional for Christians and if you wonder why your faith isn’t thriving, not being in church could be a big reason why. I have come to value more and more my time in church and in Sunday School and those are things that will remain towards the top of the priority list when other things (like video games) get cut to the bone. Laura and I also lead a small group (we call them Acts 2 Community Groups in our church) meeting in our apartment on Friday nights. This requires us to commit more time out of our week to this, but the reward has been a wonderful time of fellowship with other Christians as we have delved deeper into God’s Word and in building relationships with other believers.
4. Finally, this shuffling of priorities has been motivated in part by my impending fatherhood. I need to make sure that I am devoting the time necessary to growing spiritually since I am mandated by the Bible to be the spiritual leader of my family. How can I expect to lead my family into a deeper relationship with Jesus when I am failing to do so myself? How can I call myself the “spiritual leader” when I spend more time engrossed in video games than I do growing my knowledge and love of Jesus? If I expect my wife and kids to put Jesus first, I need to be leading by example.
There you have it. I’m sure this shuffling of priorities will continue to grow and evolve, but that’s where I’m at for now. God has been teaching me a lot in the last couple of months and this has forced me to take a hard look at my life. While it’s never fun to have your weaknesses revealed, it is amazing to see what happens when you start to address them.
And now, because this is my blog and I can do what I want with it…
A little musical number from the latest Newsboys album. This is one of those fun Newsboys songs. It’s nothing profound, but is incredibly catchy and I often find myself skipping to this song when I am driving, rolling the windows down, and rocking out with some serious head bobbage and rawk fistage. I’m sure I look like a fool as I roll down I20 in my itty bitty Honda Fit, but sometimes you just can’t help it.