The Pressure of Priorities

A few years ago, after I had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, a friend who had been through the same process warned me my life would change on the other side of my treatment. “How so?” I asked him. “Well, for one thing,” he said, “you’ll have no patience with anything or anyone that wants your time.”

He was right. I wasn’t very patient to begin with, but now, I’m brutal with my time.

Really knowing how precious time is changes you. Once you understand it, you only want to spend time with those people and those things that matter. Everything else is trivial.

Several months ago, we moved my mom to live near me. Having her in town and being responsible for her care put a different pressure on my time. I kept trying to do everything I was doing before and take care of my mom, too. Finally, Jeannie sat me down and said, “You’re trying to live as if nothing has changed, and everything has changed.”

Of course, she was right. So, we got out my calendar, penciled in the new realities and made some hard choices about my life. Basically, we pruned my life back to a handful of priorities—my marriage, my family, my friends, my health, being the pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church, and taking care of my mom. That’s it. Everything else is “No.” These are the only things I have time and energy to do well.

Here’s the irony. The only things that matter now, are the only things that mattered before. Sadly for me, I needed the kick in the pants of a cancer diagnosis before I had the courage to act.

Everyone knows this, but few people have the courage to act on it. So, let me ask you this question: What would you change if you knew you only had so long to live?

Well, I hate to be the one to break the news to you, but you do have only so much longer to live. Whether 10 years, 20 years, or 50 years, it really doesn’t matter. No one gets out alive.

So, go ahead. Be courageous. Get rid of those things that waste your time—that waste your life. There are only a handful of things that really matter, and you know what they are. 

Prioritize your priorities. It’s the only way to live a life that matters.

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