This week's about putting God first in the way we spend our time, and I'm going to go all pastor on you and start this thing off with an illustration. My mom has used it to explain time management to me a lot, and she's basically a management guru, so you're welcome.
Pretend that I gave you a mason jar, a bunch of sand, a few big rocks (but small enough to fit inside of the mason jar, duh) and some bouncy balls. Let's say that the jar represents how much time you have and the objects represent the ways you use your time. The rocks are the most important things; for me, that would be God, the people in my life, and school. The bouncy balls are the slightly less important things: my blog, my pets, sports, baking, reading - hobby-type things. The sand is the little stuff that's kind of fun but doesn't have much redeeming value and isn't that important - it's the social media, the TV, the coloring of princess pictures. There's nothing wrong with it, but it's definitely not necessary.
I ask you to put everything into the jar. You pour the sand in first, then add the bouncy balls. By the time you start to add the big rocks to the jar, they don't fit! You beg me for another try, and I graciously grant it. This time, the big rocks go in first. Next, you add the bouncy balls. They fall into the gaps between the rocks, like they were always meant to fit there. Finally, the sand fills in the cracks and runs out just before spilling over the brin.
This, my mom says, is how life works. When we put the big stuff first, everything else just falls into its intended place. I would venture to guess that adding God to the "big rocks" category helps things to fall into place even better, because he's God and he's really good at that kind of stuff.
I'm guessing that, if you've been walking with God for a while, a lot of what I've said so far isn't news to you. You know that God needs to come first, and that he should be one of the big rocks in your life. You might have even tried your hand at actually fitting the objects into the mason jar at some Jesus-related event or something. For the most part, we know that God should be the first priority in our lives, but we don't know how.
Be All Business
Besides the mason jar illustration, my mom/time management guru has lots of other brilliant stuff to say about how to use my time most efficiently. One practice that she recommends time and again is to make appointments for everything you do, especially the hard stuff and especially the important stuff. Well, spending time with God is both important and difficult. I mean, on the one hand, we need and desire to our very core to be in a relationship with him; that much is a given because of how we're created. On the other hand, though, being with God rubs against the grain of our sinful nature. Time spent in the Bible and prayer often shows us that we're doing stuff wrong, and no one likes to be told that we're doing stuff wrong. It's hard!
Therefore, add it to your schedule. Plan our a specific block of time to spend with God and write it in your planner or type it into your phone or tell it to your personal assistant and then actually do it. Hold your appointment to God like you would any other engagement - that means not planning other events for the same time or showing up late or leaving early. A great relationship with God takes commitment, and this is a really good place to start!
Expect to Be Uncomfortable
Our little illustration shows that everything we enjoy about life can fit into it if we put God first, but that doesn't mean that those activities won't have to fit in a different way. For instance, you might have to give up prime working / running / TV watching hours in order to devote that time to being with God. (But, I mean, treadmills and Netflix, so nice try.) Shifting how all the little pieces of your life fit together will surely cause discomfort - the bouncy balls aren't used to having to squeeze in between the rocks, and the sand won't like having to wait its turn to get involved. They'll demand their old places back, in the bottom of the jar where your full attention is. Ignore them! You know what you're doing! The big rocks stay at the bottom of the jar, without question.
God has to be first, because he's what we as his followers build our lives on. We know that, but knowing isn't enough - creating a strong relationship with him takes real commitment. Get started strong by saying a quick prayer asking God to help you to put him first. And after that, you best be whipping out your planner and scheduling the heck out of it with God-time. //
Next week will (most likely) be the last post in our God First series, so show up then and read some more about God being first! Also, head over to Itunu's blog and check out what she had to say about keeping God first in the way we use our time, because she's smart and writes good words. I hope this was helpful to you!
Have a great day!