This I Believe

Karl - Newberg, Oregon
Entered on June 19, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: purpose

This I believe:

I believe in the importance of setting priorities. As a child growing up, I knew I was loved 3rd best. I was secure in the fact that my mom and dad had agreed to love God most and to try to obey. They also agreed that they would love each other second. That meant that the 5 of us were loved 3rd best. A very good place to be and I believe my parents were intentional about their priorities.

Several years ago I wondered with my wife, Ginny, what our priorities were. We asked Ernest, our pastor, to sit down with us and ask us to prioritize our goals. We were young professionals without children. We decided there were 5 things we wanted. 1) We wanted to be successful in our chosen careers, 2) We wanted to be happy and content, 3) We wanted to love each other and stay married, 4) We wanted to know, love and serve God and finally 5) We wanted to achieve financial security.

We began the discussion about priorities and agreed that 1) we too wanted to know, love and serve God, 2) We wanted to love each other and stay married and 3) We wanted to be happy and content. We agreed we didn’t need to prioritize any further because if a decision made it past the screen these three priorities created it was the correct decision or it was trivial.

Several years later I used the screen. The job offer was twice the salary and a genuine promotion, but I knew I wouldn’t be happy and that our marriage would suffer. It was a no brainer, because we had set our priorities.

The most important priorities we set are those that determine what we will not do. Thirty years ago, Ginny and I agreed we didn’t want to have a TV in our home. We believed reading the newspaper, working at our hobbies, learning, hiking and having friends was a higher priority. We were left out of many of conversations because we didn’t know (or care) who Bevis is or was. I love to watch the NCAA finals, but I ask a friend if I can come watch with him and we make it a party.

Finally, it is important to intentionally and formally set priorities. It is work, but turning off the TV and agreeing about what we don’t want and agreeing what we do want is worth the missed sitcom. Ever notice how many friends you have that don’t have time to find a new job or return to school, but have time to watch the Superbowl or the Incredible Journey? I believe in setting priorities.