Making time for what matters most: how do you align your lifestyle with your priorities?

I think all of us struggle with spending the right amount of time on the right things. But how exactly is that supposed to work, from a practical perspective?

Maybe your priority list looks something like this:
  1. God
  2. Spouse
  3. Kids
  4. Work/Self
How should that play out in your life? Does that mean that you should be spending more hours in a day studying the Bible than spending time with your spouse and kids? Does it mean that if you spend 8 hours a day working, all the other priorities in your life should be getting more than 8 hours a day?

There's no clear cut answer to these questions in the Bible. But I've come to realize that just because something is #1 on your priority list does not mean it has to get the most amount of dedicated time. 

Every day has different demands. Some days it's mostly about work, other days it's mostly about family. That's perfectly fine.

Every season of our lives has a different demand, too. There will be times when our kids or work demand more of our time, and there will be seasons when we're meant to focus more on our spouses or our personal needs and development. I think that's all part of God's plan, too.

And let's be honest--there just isn't going to be time for everything if you separate it into God Time, Husband Time, Kid Time, Work Time, and so on. There has to be overlap, particularly with God Time.

For example, going to church as a family hits the top 3 priorities, so you can try to make that a regular routine. Serve God and spend time with God alongside the people that matter most to you.

The Bible tells us to mediate continually on Him and His words. He wants to come alongside us in everything we do! As we work or nurture our families or spend time on any other priority, we can invite God to help us and guide us.

The other priorities God has placed in our lives ARE the important work we've been put on this planet to do. 

We're here to show the love of God not by praying in a closet 12 hours a day, but by serving our spouses, kids, and friends and family, students, and co-workers.

We learn more about His character and become molded into who He wants us to be not by reading the Bible from sun up to sun down, but by going out in the world and doing the work He gave us to do.

Today, I may need to spend more time serving God through A, and tomorrow, I'll spend more time serving God through B. This year, He's calling me to serve Him through C, but in a few years, I may be called to serve Him through D.

Isn't that a freeing way to look at this?

The past 10 months have been focused on school work for most of us. But for the next 2 months, work may consume less of our time so we can give of ourselves to other priorities. We can serve God in other ways--by loving our families, taking care of ourselves,

Let's use our time well. 


dean said...

In high school I heard a student share how she would ask God to wake her up each morning to spend just the right amount of time with Him to begin her day. That really stuck with me. I began to ask God to do the same thing for me. Now 35 years later, He still wakes me up (no I do not need an alarm clock :-D) and we spend some time together before my day of activities begins. Since I first learned about this I discovered this verse: "The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned." Isaiah 50:4

dean said...

In high school I heard a student share how she would ask God to wake her up each morning to spend just the right amount of time with Him to begin her day. That really stuck with me. I began to ask God to do the same thing for me. Now 35 years later, He still wakes me up (no I do not need an alarm clock :-D) and we spend some time together before my day of activities begins. Since I first learned about this I discovered this verse: "The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned." Isaiah 50:4

Eric Chandler said...

I am not sure where to even begin with this post? But I am convicted to respond. How about Deuteronomy 6:4-8-Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates. THE ONLY REASON WE ARE ON EARTH IS TO GLORIFY THE FATHER... Our priority list does not look like this - 1)God 2)Spouse3)Kids4)other - Our priority list should look like this - 1)God 2)God 3)God 4)God - We all have enough time to serve God - we all have enough money to give to God - but do we have enough time and money to serve both our wants and God's commands? and the answer is probably not - so then who is more important - YOU or GOD? In our culture God usually is the one sacrificing - but this is not biblical - I could go on forever... but remember - God made this day - God gave you the breathe you just took - without God you would not even be reading this... Is God really the priority in your life? We are here for God's sake not ours... If God was most important in your life - THE PRIORITY - What would everything else in your life actually look like - Jesus spent all His time praying and teaching the word of God - He trained His disciples to do the same - Do you really want to be like Christ?

Angela Watson said...

Eric, I would love to hear how this viewpoint plays out from a practical perspective in your life.

Jesus and the disciples spent all their time praying and teaching the word of God because that was their vocation--they had no jobs, no mortgage or rent to pay, no household to maintain, no spouse or kids to care for, and they left their extended families behind. Is this what you have done, as well, and believe that all followers of Christ are supposed to do?

Eric Chandler said...

I hear what you are saying, but how then are we set apart from the world? When Christ calls someone to follow Him - is it not the same as in the bible? Did the disciples not have jobs (fishermen) and families before Christ called them? They were in the world and of the world before Christ - just as we are. When Christ called - they knew that they had to follow - Jesus says I will make you fisher of men - the disciples knew that their was no greater treasure on earth then the Messiah. When a man found a treasure buried in a field (Jesus) He went back and did what? He sold all He had - Why? because He knew the value of what He had found. Is Jesus really our role-model? If so don't we want to look like our role-model? Is the bible an instruction manual for us to understand how we should live so that our Father is glorified? Jesus says you want to follow me than you must deny yourself (that does not sound like the American dream) deny our wants - our desires - our dreams - why? so that the world can see His worth and value and love - and then Jesus says pick up your cross and follow me - a torture device - that leads to death - Jesus says you want to follow me - it might cost you your life - you sure you want to follow me - and the answer is Yes - why would I not want to follow - at any cost the creator of all things - this is a struggle with man throughout the entire bible. God's word was not just for them - it is for us as well - not for our sake but for His sake - But we live in a country that has made His absolute truth fit our lifestyles and our dreams - and we have so to speak walked away from living a life that glorifies God - and our culture does not see a reflection of Jesus - rather hypocrites calling themselves Christians - relying not on the power God - rather relying on ourselves - Is God in control - or not? . How big of a house do we need? How fancy a car do we need? How much stuff in a self driven - self sufficient - prideful culture do we need - and God hates all those things - no one can serve 2 masters - no one can serve both money and God - He hates pride - We sing songs like - I surrender all - but have we really done that - have we really surrender anything to God - Living the life of a true Christian is not practical in any worldly sense - isn't that the point - how then will the world see the glory of God - the power of God - the greatness of God - the goodness of God - the love of God - Did God not feed in Exodus 32-33 His children food when there was none - did He not make water pour from rocks? God has promised us - promised to take care of our needs if we follow Him and fulfill His will - not our will - Do we have faith and trust in the creator of all things to not provide our needs, if we jump out of the boat and follow Him when He calls? We need to remember - foxes have dens - the birds of the air have nest - but Jesus himself said - I may have no place to lay my head tonight you still want to follow? Is this not what a Christian should look like? If not the what is the point of the bible telling us how we should live - so that we glorify God...

I was in the world and of the world... I had a job - a great job - I grew up in the church as an institution (a business) - never really understanding God because it was a business created to make (me) feel good - thinking I was saved when I was not really - I looked like the world - I was not set apart - and one day - Jesus came to the shore and called me to follow Him - and I knew it was the Messiah calling me - so I jumped out of the boat and had to follow - I wanted to - I have 4 wonderful children - 12 - 11 - 7 and 16 months - I have a wonderful wife - and two years ago, God called us to spread His word - to be disciples - Jesus called us to be a Christian - Showing the love and spreading the gospel is God's mission for every person that calls themselves a Christian. (Matthew 28:18-20 - The Great Commission)

Eric Chandler said...

So we prayed - our family prayed on everything - God took us from a $1000.00 rent per month and put us in a home that cost $500.00 per month. We don't rent now - we are buying - and the home is bigger - Why bigger? because we need room to bring people in and disciple them - God did all that - and we glorify Him for that - We planted a small church with no funds - no resources - 5 people - 2 years ago last week - 85% of the people that attend are below poverty level - We rented a school gym each Sunday up until the past January - each month we barely made rent - but we always did - praise God and His Almighty power - Oh - and we never take up an offering - we have offering boxes - but never talk about it - In January we were approached by a religious conference - who had a building on 8 acres sitting vacant. They wanted to sell it to us - we loved the building - but we could not buy it - so they gave it to us - Praise God - So now we have a building that we can use 7 days a week to minister and serve the community - We have little funds - little resources - no one takes a salary - but our needs are being met - Why? because we trust God and God provides for those that are desperate for Him and fulfilling His will - A guy named George Mueller - you should check Him out - He did not take a salary for 66 years of ministry - He never asked for a dime - and He served over 10,000 orphans with 5 homes - receiving around 187 million dollars in funding - and He never once ask for a dime - This is the power of God - that we do not see in our culture because we do not desperately seek Him and trust Him and depend on Him - We are to busy doing our own thing and not His - His mission - His will -

What about missionaries? We like to box them up and stick them in another category - but that is not biblical - this is all over the bible from front to back - I believe the majority of people that call themselves Christians just don't really believe it - what we believe is what we do - our actions demonstrate what we actually believe - Do most really have faith in God - or do they actually think they are in control - All of my families needs are met by God - and we have the greatest relationships ever - if you ask my what I love most about my wife? It is that she loves God more than me - Christ is the center of all we do - the center of every part of our lives - we are set apart from this world and it is amazing - I am in this world but no longer of it - God is most satisfied in us - when we are most satisfied in Him - Is it practical according to the world - Nope! Thank God - and God is glorified in all we do - Be a follower of Jesus (Christian) is the greatest thing we will ever do - but it is also the hardest - just read His word - it is cover to cover - God wants to poor down His great blessing on us - so that He is glorified - so that the world sees Him through us - but we so often respond - Thanks God - but I want to do it my way - and sadly - many never see His glory and power -

Sorry I went so long - I now travel and do this full time - people need to not just know God but understand Him in all His glory - people need to truly experience an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. I could go on and on about story after story of God providing for my family and those God brings before us - Miracle after miracle just like in the bible - God's living word - how can I not go and share this with others - I now owe them a debit - a debit to share with them the gift of grace and mercy - and my family is stronger than ever before - Why - because we live desperate for Christ to the best of our ability and Christ is in total control of every step we take - please visit and learn more about what we do and for lessons

Angela Watson said...

Eric, thanks for sharing your story. This is a site designed for those who have a calling from God to work as classroom teachers. As I mentioned in the post, their call is to show the love of God not by praying in a closet 12 hours a day, but by serving their spouses, kids, and friends and family, students, and co-workers.

Unless God asks them to quit their jobs, they will be working 40-50+ hours per week, and therefore they will need to figure out how to work and take care of their families while "meditating continually on Him and His words. He wants to come alongside us in everything we do! As we work or nurture our families or spend time on any other priority, we can invite God to help us and guide us."

I don't think that's terribly different from what you're saying, and I would add that God hasn't called everyone to serve Him in the exact same way. Our schools (and the next generation) would be in a terrible state if every Christian teacher needed to leave the classroom in order to serve God. Your post insinuates they're working in order to have a big house and bank account rather than because teaching is the call they have on their lives. God called you OUT of your job--but God has called my readers TO their jobs, and therefore (as I said in the post) will experience Him as the central priority in their lives "by going out in the world and doing the work He gave them to do."

Eric Chandler said...

My wife and I have both prayed on this - we both agree sadly we are saying very different things - unfortunately they do sound similar but are very different - our goal is not to make anyone feel bad - or to seem as though we are judging anyone - our goal is that others will examine their selves daily in the word and prayer - 2 Corinthians 13:5 - because this is how the Spirit of God transforms us to look more like Christ - understanding the attributes of God and our relationship with Jesus grows only through meditating on His word and in prayer through the Holy Spirit - We then take what we have learned from the Spirit of God and apply it to the way we live - Our behavior cannot change without an understanding to the fact that change needs to occur - what we believe is what we actually do - The majority of pastors today in our culture sadly teach us how to "survive in the world" teaching about worldly living and bringing the bible into that picture - living a life that "fits our lifestyle - living the way the world lives and attempting to bring God's word into that picture is not biblical - it is not how a Christian has been commanded by Jesus to live - but it is how unfortunately the majority of Christians in America live - and the result is we look like hypocrites - and then we wonder why our culture is the way it is - teachers experience dealing with kids today that have little if any values - morals - and love for anything outside themselves - this is a direct result of many Christians living as the world and then trying to insert God - Being a Christian is taking God and then going into the world for the world to see something very different - this is a very hard way to live - but it is the greatest way to live - but even for Pastors today this does not put people in the seats of a building we falsely call church - do we want our seats full - of course - but not at the cost of compromising God's word - We need to remember 1000's came to hear Jesus but only a few stayed to ask questions - Why - because the life of a Christian is not safe - secure - and comfortable -

I believe what we are saying is very different - My wife and I agree - this devotion seems to be adding God's word to a worldly viewpoint - You even ask - How is this practical in our lifestyles today - again - It is not practical - that is the point - people do not see Jesus living a practical lifestyle - We are not commanded to live a practical lifestyle - This is what God commands - God does not say we will not all have different "jobs" in the world - but we are commanded to all approach those jobs with a passion for everyone to know Christ -

Eric Chandler said...

God has the same mission for everyone - Yes - we have unique gifts and talents that God has given to us - and we use those in our own unique way - but His mission is always the same - The apostles all had different gifts and talents but their passion was for Christ to be known - God says - focus on Him in everything we do - and I do not believe after working 40-50 hours per week that if teachers trust God they need to figure it out - God is in control and He already has it figured out and He will take care of those other things - He will provide for their families - their relationships - their home life - God is always present - God doesn't work alongside of us - Christ dwells in us and us in Him - Christ never leaves us - If Christ feels distant it is because we have done that on our own - by not constantly meditating on His word and in prayer - I don't believe once one is truly converted by Jesus there are any other priorities - look at Paul - Paul was an upstanding Jew - He had a great "job" in the eyes of the Jewish people - and when Jesus came to Saul on that road - and Saul became Paul - Jesus converted Paul and everything in Paul's life changed - Paul was no longer of the world - in the world yes but not of the world - Paul was set apart and it cost Him His life - this was not a practical lifestyle even then - God's word never changes - No matter if someone has a worldly job or not - no matter what their unique gifts and talents are - when Christ truly converts someone - at that very moment a passion begins to burn with in them for all those who do not have Christ - this little light of mine - I am going to let is shine - this is not looking like a good person in the world - I know lots of great teachers that are good people that sadly don't know Christ - and just like many students these teachers lives are on the line "eternally" if one person is converted by Jesus - that is worth losing a worldly job - Jesus says - if you are not worthy of me - if you are not willing to do this when I ask -

I pray that the Spirit of God will give a deeper understand to our differences because looking as the world looks - and trying to bring the word into that picture is just not biblical - it must be the other way around - and sadly this happens all the time - even for many Pastors today - they preach a lesson that fits their peoples needs so they can fill seats or keep their "job" and that is not what Jesus teaches -

Eric Chandler said...

I see our kids in a school system that denies Christ - You say if all the Christian teachers left our school system that would be tragic - but the system is already tragic A system that says you can not pray... but what about Daniel in the Lions den? If all the Christian teachers stood firm as Daniel what would happen? A system that teaches about other religions but not Christ - Is that not denying Christ? that to me is a system that is already in a terrible state and it will only get worse... What kind of statement would it make if all Christian teachers actually said that denying God in our school systems is wrong and that the students lives are at stake eternally - now that would make a statement in the name of God - and God would be glorified - but for most the truth is - we don't really want to go to the lions den for God - we don't really want to go into the furnace for not bowing to an idol - we don't really want to stand firm for Christ at any cost - because we feel like we actually might lose something - but we need to understand we are not losing anything - nothing in this world means anything in comparison to Jesus Christ -

My wife is the one who showed me the devotion - and we both felt a conviction to post
She is a teacher in the public school system that is tragically failing Christ - Her job is on the line every day with her faith in Jesus Christ - She desires her students to see a reflection of Jesus flowing through her - because they desperately need Him - their eternal life is at stake - Teaching English is important - Math - social studies - science - kids learning is important - but their eternal life does not compare in importance - are our teachers bringing children to Christ - and I pray they are and I know that their are some - my wife is one of those - Her students do not see a good person - they see a reflection of Jesus Christ - yes my wife as a teacher works more hours than she should but she still disciples - not just her students but anyone God brings before her - feeds those in need and more... yes sometimes we laugh because our life looks like a hurricane... but God always calms the storm... She wakes at 4am to dive into His word and pray before her day begins - because spending all your time with God affects every aspect of life - My wife used to approach her classroom as you have described in your devotion - now she approaches her classroom bringing God's word into the world - it has changed everything for her and for her students - students don't need to see teachers that are good people and are nice - students need to see the value the worth and love of Jesus at any cost -

Our prayer is that you do not take offense to what has been said - but that you will examine yourself in the idea that maybe we have said 2 very different things -

Thank you for allowing us to respond - it is a privilege to be able to express to you our views and receive yours -

may God bless you and your family and continue to grow you in a deeper understanding as you share the word - In Christ with Love...

College Reine Marie said...

When your goals are aligned and balanced with your priorities, natural strengths and talents, you’ll maintain your integrity, feel calmer and will experience greater peace of mind while
traveling on your path to achieving bigger goals and meaningful, long lasting results. You’ll find the process of working towards these goals more enjoyable and fulfilling, without feeling as if you’re continually pushing for something to happen. Instead, you’ll be pulled towards your goal with less of an effort.

Fernando M Díez Gallego said...

I can see you're Christian and that's great.
May God bless you and your work. And your family alike.
I've just seen through this website or part of your website. Not thoroughly anyway. On Christian issues.
From Granada, Spain.
Fernando M. Díez Gallego
English-language teacher and tutor
I'm Roman Catholic Christian, by the way. Or do you say Christian Roman Catholic? English is not my mother language and I might have some errors or mistakes. Or both!

Melissa B. said...

Angela (although I totally feel as though I should refer to you as Mrs. Watson—you’ve been my “digital teacher” for a few weeks now!),

I noticed that your last reply on this site was over a year ago, so you may not even see this. I know you receive hundreds of comments, messages, emails, and contacts on a daily basis (oh my).

However, I just wanted to say THANK YOU. I discovered your “secular” resources a few weeks ago (“I googled ‘teacher Sunday blues’”) and have been at your site ever since). As I began reading through the resources, working through the 5-Day Teacher Tired Challenge, and listening to your podcasts, I couldn’t get over what I sensed in both your writing and your speaking: “She has such a call to excellence. But she comes off so humble. And she prioritizes her emotional and spiritual and familial health. I wonder if she’s a believer...?”

Fast forward a few weeks to this evening, where I found myself on my couch with my husband utterly relieved that Bible Study was cancelled because I was utterly exhausted from teaching (and from the thought of all my grading waiting for me at school). Almost in tears, the cry of my heart was, “God, I love this job, but I don’t know if I’m going to avoid the burnout that everyone talks about. Please provide guidance.”

I scrolled through your page again (I haven’t joined the 40 hour workweek club but plan to this summer. Until then, I’m bumming off the free resources!). Then, I saw it. Tiny white letters at the bottom. “Christian Teacher Support.”


And just like that, my spirit was rejuvenated as I read through your faith-based encouragement.

“They will know we are Christians by our love...” Thank you for modeling the fruits of the spirit on a professional platform. You’re such a great teacher, encourager, and role model. I plan on using your resources throughout the year until I can do the 40HrWk Club this summer, and I’m all the more excited to know that the resources and courses I’ll be using are infused with love and excellence that can only come from Him. Thank you for being such a faithful servant of the ultimate Teacher.

In Christ,
Melissa B.