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Spending Time

February 1, 2020 by Beth A. Richardson

Do you know what your priorities are? 

If I rated my priorities according to the amount of time I spend on things, my list sometimes looks like this:

  1. Job 
  2. Sleep
  3. Dog 
  4. Fitness 
  5. Housework 
  6. Playing with technology 
  7. Television

Way down on my list comes church, family, and prayer time. This self-reckoning is a bit disturbing to me. It doesn’t match the priorities I carry in my heart. 

It’s a bit misleading to determine priorities based on time spent. After all, there are some things a person must do in life—like laundry—and the time these things take may be disproportionate to the value or satisfaction they bring. Perhaps I should ask myself, am I spending enough time on the things that are priorities to me? Or, am I spending too much time on things that have no value or that are contrary to my priorities? 

What do you find when you consider how you spend your time? 

What if, as we examined this topic, we could be guided by Jesus’ priorities as we know them through the scriptures? Christopher Maricle, in his book, The Jesus Priorities: 8 Essential Habits, identifies Jesus’ priorities based on “Jesus’ most repeated words and actions” in the Gospels. Maricle concludes that Jesus’ top three priorities are Heal, Love, and Pray. 

We enter Lent at the end of this month. (Lent is the 40 days preceding Easter, excluding Sundays.) The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 26. Lent has traditionally been a time of repentance and self-examination preceding Easter and the Resurrection. In the early church, Easter was the time that converts were baptized, so the season of Lent was a time of preparation for this transformation. 

Lent is often a time of shedding—giving up certain foods, letting go of bad habits, refraining from watching television or social media. But Lent can also be a time of taking on something new—trying a new spiritual discipline, embracing life through service to others, participating in a Lenten study.

You are invited to consider your Lenten practice: What will you shed? What will you add? Use this season of Lent to discern your own priorities: the priorities you display through the actions in your life and the priorities to which God is calling you. 

Toward which priorities is God guiding you?

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Beth A. Richardson serves as the director of prayer and worship life and Dean of The Upper Room Chapel. 

Adapted from Alive Now, March/April 2014. Copyright © 2014 The Upper Room.

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"In these strange new days...

...devoid of our regular routine and filled instead with uncertainty and a hum of anxiety, my husband and I have found the practice of joining The Upper Room each day at 11am (CST) via Facebook to pray, listen, and learn in community, including my sister in Houston. This is a much-needed healing balm." Join us on Facebook each day at 11AM Central.