Is God YOUR #1?

Do you set priorities?  If so, what is your #1?

I’ve heard various forms of the claim that someone has, or that you should “put God #1” that it makes my head spin.  Lucas, a friend of mine from Waco’s emergent cohort, says that God isn’t a priority.

I have to agree, Lucas, especially with this:

So many people in ministry say that their priorities are 1) God and 2) family. By God unfortunately they mean their particular ministry. This results actually in families being neglected and abused by ministers who let the church bleed them dry and take them away from their families.

In addition to people in ministry settings, I recall a lot of talk about “putting God first” among groups of divorced people working through their stuff together to find healing.  Trouble is, we never got down to what, exactly this means.  In fact, as I remember it, saying “I’m putting God first,” is basically offered as a trump card to excuse oneself from difficult questions about how one is dealing with others.

Lucas concludes that “God is not a priority. God is everything, over all, behind all and in all.”

I’m with you, Lucas.  God is not a priority.  God is everything.

7 thoughts on “Is God YOUR #1?

  1. 1. Makes me think of the signs/bumper stickers, “I support the troops.” Usually no real consequences, just a notation of ones feelings.

    2. I’m reluctant to say God is everything. Why? The doctrine of creation says (among other things) that God made a diverse, multifaceted world that is NOT God. But I suppose than when you say that “God is everything,” you’re not aiming to make an ontological statement. Maybe it’s a motivational statement. God is the only true value, the only true motivation (or OUGHT to be). Again, I’m not sure I’d go with “only” here. While it is popular to collapse the first part of the Great Commandment into the second, I’m equally uncomfortable collapsing the second into the first.

    Let me think about it some more.

  2. From Dean Libby:
    I would tend to agree with Richard on this. I, too, am reluctant to say “God is everything” because that would be the definition of pantheism, right?

    Even though I am just as guilty as the next pastor of prioritizing my church/ministry ahead of my wife and daughter, I have come to understand that if I don’t prioritize my daily spiritual disciplines, then I will substitute it with sermon prep time.

    For me, God needs to be priority #1 or I won’t be able to lead my family or my church with any semblance of effectiveness.

    Just a few thoughts…
    DJL

  3. Dean, you and Richard together have gotten me thinking further on this.

    I’m not a pantheist, or a panentheist, so I don’t use “God is everything” in that sense. Not a good choice of wording then, I suppose.

    I tire of ignoring the second of the Greatest Commandments in the name of the first.

    With Richard, though, I’d have to say that ignoring the first in the name of the second is not the solution.

  4. Can I rephrase and see if it makes sense? Not God is Everything, but God Is Not In Competition With Other Elements in Our Lives. Rather, loving God makes us love others in a way we could not before. Loving God opens our eyes to goals and actions we were blind to before. Loving God enables us to reject the bad and to choose the good; moreover, to reject the OK and to choose the Healthy, the Fulfilling, the Optimal.

    Remember the “object lesson” where one is able to fit more stones in the jar if you fit the big rocks in first, the pebbles in next, the pea gravel in next? The importance being, choose your priorities. I think God is not one of the rocks, but rather more like the jar. Or maybe the guy that made the jar.

  5. I usually talk about priorities as:
    1) God
    2) Family
    3) Work
    and explain it this way:

    God as my highest priority means my personal spirituality.
    It’s not how often I’m in church, although that can help.
    It’s not how often I pray, but that certainly does help.
    It’s not how many hours (or minutes) of scripture I read in a week, or how much of “the Lord’s work” I do.
    It’s about how I am thinking about, living as, and being a follower of Christ.

    Family next works out much better when I am trying to be the man that God created me to be.
    I’m a better husband, father, and friend.
    I include close friendships and church family in this category as well.

    Work is work…and school…and hobbies…and everything else.
    Included in this is my ministry work.

    My usual struggle with discipleship is the balance between these things and keeping the priorities straight.

    Just last Sunday we did an activity with our youth group to illustrate this very situation.
    We spent a little while writing different activities that occupy our time.
    Each thing on a different slip of paper. School. Homework. Band practice. Family. Work. Prayer. Football. Friends. Texting. TV. Boyfriends. Girlfriends. Kayaking. Youth Group. Church. Choir. Etc, etc, etc.
    We pulled out a folding table and put everything that had to do with work or school or hobbies on it.
    Then we pulled out a smaller table and put it on top and added everything that had to do with family or close friends on it.
    Some people moved a few things up or down.
    Finally we put a chair on top to make a place for our spirituality.
    One student mentioned that it was hard to reach.
    We noted that sounded about right.
    We moved some more things around and talked about putting God first not meaning that we had to spend all our time doing “church stuff.”
    After taking one slip from the bottom table and changing it to something that would work on top, we circled up and prayed for each other and for us to connect in a deeper way with God.

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