One definition of "priority" is something that merits prior attention. Stated in "everyday language," priority identifies a need that deserves attention, action, or consideration before other needs receive attention, action, or consideration.

Some approach needs by thinking, reflecting, and evaluating. When one makes a list of needs that must receive attention, he or she "prioritizes" the list. Each need on the list appears in order of importance. Number one is the need of greatest importance. Number two is the need second in importance, and thus the list continues. The importance of the need determines its position on the list. Priority determines how, where, and when the need is addressed.

Some approach needs by reacting to the urgent. These needs are no less real. One even may make a random list of needs. But time and energy are not used to care for important needs first. He or she often works hard, but commonly the "urgency of the moment" receives first consideration. Often important needs are neglected because the person reacts to the moment's cries for attention.

Some rarely think about importance. They seldom prioritize. On a daily basis, they live by reacting to the moment's situation. The "important need" is the immediate need. Priorities do not exist. The only consideration is "what must be cared for right now." Only the urgency of the immediate produces needs.

Christ introduces us to the necessity of priorities. They include loving God above all else; loving people above things; trusting God instead of worrying; resisting temptation instead of yielding to evil; living for God's kingdom instead of physical needs; forgiving instead of judging. That is only the beginning. As each of us spiritually matures, priorities mature. Priorities change because the person grows in his or her knowledge and understanding of God.

How much did you grow spiritually in 1998? What are your priorities for 1999?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 3 January 1999

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