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First Things First

Updated: Sep 4, 2022

My teenage son Pierce is a chip off the old mama block. Among other things, he really likes to stay busy round the clock. Unlike me, he's a jock, so playing sports, watching sports, researching sports, practicing sports, training for sports, talking about sports, and thinking about sports, are among his favorite pastimes. After a long school day, he usually wants to go train, throw a ball, or spend an alarming and irritating amount of time watching YouTube videos of baseball highlights. Even so, as far as male teenage obsessions are concerned, sports are pretty benign.

Pierce goes to a competitive school where there's a lot of homework, which he's been known to do at 10:58 pm. I used to mandate homework and chores before sports or fun, but I'm now letting him have more control over his priorities and I know he's more nocturnal than I am. For a long time, he preferred to do it his way which made for some late-night stress, scrambling, and sleepiness. However, I've come to believe we all learn better when life, rather than mom-nagging, is the teacher. To his credit, Pierce seems to have discovered prioritizing homework is a better way. Now he destresses with social sports after school, has dinner, does his homework, and then plays PS4 MLB with a buddy before bedtime. He's a good student, a wonderful young man, and I love him very much.

Type A versus The Way

I am very production-oriented and a recovering perfectionist, so I like to do hard things to earn pleasure. Facts is, hard things themselves are a pleasure for me, so let's say I like to earn leisure. I just enjoy myself more when I know my work is done, I've jogged three miles, the floor is mopped, dinner is cleaned up, etc. I aid this bent with multiple to-do lists, stickies, and detailed plans.

A friend of mine shared, "People things before things things and little people things before big people things." This is surprisingly sage and handy, but really hard to do when you're hustling to pay the mortgage or starting dinner, but I try. I enjoy my kids a lot and am very aware of how finite my time with them really is. Now that I'm divorced and share custody with their dad 50/50, I prioritize my time with them even more.

At different times in my life, I prioritized items 1-2-3, even scheduling time with my kids so the day didn't escape without their getting one on one attention. I confess I often set the timer when Isaac asks me to play, because as fun as he is, I'm restless, have work to do, and meals to cook, etc. It helps manage expectations, too!

I'm a bit more fluid these days. I don't let a full laundry basket steal my joy, but I'm still attuned to first things first.

As busy as I am, I have come to believe, with every fiber of my being, that placing God first is key to everything else. I have learned this through conducting the unfortunate experiment of not putting Him first, in big ways and small, and getting less than desirable results. To say the least.

This should not be a news flash for a Christian, because The Book tells us:

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33 (ESV)

There are many instances in the Bible when we're told to seek God and that seems pretty straight forward, but seeking the kingdom of God was a little more mysterious to me. Context provides clues: Matt.6:33 concludes the familiar passage about not being anxious about our lives or what we're going to eat, drink, or wear. We can also translate it the Kingdom of heaven, God's world, or the spiritual dimension. I actually like's explanation:

“Ecumenical Council,” Salvador Dali, 1960
"Kingdom of God, also called Kingdom Of Heaven, in Christianity, the spiritual realm over which God reigns as king, or the fulfillment on Earth of God’s will. The phrase occurs frequently in the New Testament, primarily used by Jesus Christ