I was recalling a "reverse-engineering your life" sermon by Driscoll where he encouraged a person to write down 6-7 priorities. He said no one can do more than 6-7 things really well. Then rank those priorities. Here is what I remember:
- Friends/Extended Family
1-Jesus is obviously top priority, so the natural question is what are you doing to cultivate, guard, grow, sustain your loving relationship with Jesus. This could include, but is not limited to: regular Bible reading, meditation, study, prayer. This top priority mainly concerns your personal spiritual disciplines
2-Living was second. This may seem strange, but in order to do any of what follows, you must be alive. Jesus comes before living as a top priority, but everything that follows requires you to be alive (like loving your wife, your kids, doing your work, etc…) So this area focuses on health and eating well, resting well, working out, taking care of yourself so that as much as it depends on you, you are doing your part to stay alive and be alive to grow old with your bride, watch your kids gets married, etc…
3-Your wife is the most important person in the world as far as you are concerned. You have covenant relationship that is unique to her alone. She must be the top person in your life. If you love anyone, it should be her. She is the last person to get short-changed.
4-Your children are the next most important people in the world. They will hear the word father and think of you. You alone can be a dad to them. Others can support and come along side and even pick up slack if you were to fail, but none of them can be your children's father. That is a responsibility God has placed squarely on your shoulders.
5-You have to work if you want to provide for your wife and your children, but it comes behind them in priority. You work in order to provide for them. You work because God made man to work the garden, but work for the married man with kids is a mechanism of support. Your job is a helper. So the question is: is it helping you provide for your family? And this is definitely not limited to finances only, although it most certainly does refer to money. It also refers to stress level, time commitment, identity, exhaustion, etc… If it hurts the overall goal by threatening to become a greater priority than #5, it may be time to consider finding a new job or finding a new approach to your current employment.
6-Ministry is #6 on the depth chart. It cannot and should not be higher than #6 if you are married and have children. God, being alive, your wife, your kids and your job must all come before this. Now for the vocational minister, they get to combine 5 and 6. They do have to be careful to keep it from climbing the priority chart however because the fact that they get to combine these lends itself to a felt pressure to go above and beyond in a way lay men don't feel pressured to. For the lay person, #6 is ministry. With what is left at this point, one can consider how best to serve the local body of believers to which the man and his family belong.
7-This is the last priority available according to Driscoll. No more than 7 is possible to do well and even at 7 you are stretching yourself to max capacity. This slot is typically filled by friends/extended family or a hobby. Now a hobby can be combined with ministry if your hobby is studying Scripture or podcasting sermons. For the lay man, this is his last available slot. The vocational minister because of his ability to blend 5 & 6 has 2 slots (6 and7) at the end of his train although being in vocational ministry is itself a weightier profession in some respects than many men's lay positions, so it may not in all actuality buy you back any extra slots at the end of your priority list.
Good food for thought.