Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Priorities, Motives & Boundaries

Are you exhausted?  Are you falling into bed each night, wondering where the day went?  Are you frustrated because you feel like you need to either get some help or clone yourself in order to be able to do the day-to-day tasks in your life?  When is the last time you spent quality time with your family (not watching the kids play sports or taking the family on a business trip - I'm talking face-to-face family time with no distractions)?

I get it.  I really, really get it.  I'm the Queen of Over-Commitment Syndrome.  My mentor once told me "Leslie, if you are exhausted or overwhelmed, you are probably doing something God has not asked you to do."  I believe she is absolutely right!  And God is teaching me some tough truths as He allows me, by His grace, to see the motivations behind some of my commitments.  Maybe you can relate?

Let's explore this a bit:
  • You've just been asked to take over a ministry or a committee and even though you know it's more than you can handle, you justify saying yes because you are sure that nobody else will do it, and if they do, they probably won't do it the way you would and that would make things harder for you.  
  • You've just been asked to take on more responsibility at work and even though it cuts into your family time even more, you go ahead and commit to it without even blinking because it might get you ahead in the company.  
  • You want your child to be well-rounded, so you have them in dance class, sports, drama team and they are active in the youth group.  You barely ever see them and usually dinner is on the run, but they will be very prepared for life in the future, so you justify the busyness as a small price to pay for future success in your child's life.

These are examples of decisions we all face every single day.  The question is: How do we know we've made the right decision?  How can we be sure that when we commit to doing something that we are motivated by our heart and not our desire to keep up with others, to prove ourselves, to make more money or to make a name for ourselves? Our heart is so deceitful sometimes.

After hitting the wall about a million times in my life, I'm learning to simplify my life by taking a look at what matters most.  I listed out my priorities.  Here is what I came up with:

Now, once I did this, I began to ask myself some important questions:
  1. What does God think about this? (I pray first...SO important!)
  2. What does my husband think about this? (He is the voice God uses very often in my life to help me balance my life - he sees things clearly when I can get emotionally blinded or selfish)
  3. Will this activity cut into my priorities?
  4. Will this activity enhance time spent with my priorities?
  5. Can I honestly say I'm doing this because it's the right thing to do or is there another motive in there somewhere?
  6. If I do this, what are the possible domino effects down the line in the future?
  7. Are there any other options or creative compromises I can do to make this more feasible in my life?
You see, I'm finally realizing that if my top three priorities get pushed aside in order to fulfill commitments made outside of them, I suffer and so does my family and my relationship with God.  I envision my priorities being protected by a big boundary, like this:

When these things are protected, I can make a much wiser decision.  It's been a difficult transition and I can honestly say I'm really not there yet!  But when I consider the consequences of over-commitment and resulting neglect in my top three priorities, I begin to understand the importance of protecting them. 

When my relationship with God is neglected, everything else falls apart.  My relationship with Him is what fuels me - the love I have for others and the good motivations of my heart to serve others can only come from His love flowing through me.  In my own strength, I become exhausted.

Bottom line: before committing, let's ask ourselves: Is this a good thing or a God thing? It makes all the difference in the world. Just because it's a good thing doesn't mean it's a God thing. Just because you're good at it, doesn't mean you should do it. And just because you are passionate about it, unless it protects your priorities, it's not worth pursuing.


Dominica said...

Great post! I used to wrestle in this area but have learned through the years to weigh things before I commit and evaluate often....
Have a wonderful day!

Kendra said...

Though your birthday has passed, I bet your hair still looks great :o) Just wanted you to know how MUCH I come back to this post, and how much I forward this sage advice. Thank you for letting the Lord speak through you!

Leslie Nease said...

Thanks so much Kendra! So glad you enjoy the post. :)

Have a great night!

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