Back in my years as a pastor I used to love introducing people to the content of John Maxwell. Even though we were a small church with not a big budget I bought a video series called Priorities to share at a leadership day. I find that it is easy in life to get off track in our priorities and miss out on all that is possible with God.
There is a story found in a small little book in the Old Testament that reminds us of this important lesson. Although Haggai is only two chapters it contains a powerful punch and could have been written to an audience today.
The story is pretty simple. The people of Israel had left captivity and gone to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. But as can happen with any project that takes a while they got discouraged and stopped working on the temple. God sends a couple of prophets to get them back on track. Haggai asks them to think about their priorities.
His message went like this: “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.” (1:4-6 ESV) He encouraged them to get back to work and that is what they did.
He gives three principles that I can use for my own life and you can use for yours.
- Take time to consider your priorities. It is easy in our world to get so busy that we don’t even take time to think about what is most important. We run with a frenzy pace that doesn’t allow for us to hear from God or even hear ourselves think. Haggai encourages them and us to take the time to think.
- Evaluate how things are working. Haggai points out that although they are working hard on things they are not getting the result they want because God’s work has gone down the list. This is not about guilt this is about being effective. When we put God’s plan first He helps us with our work.
- Make the adjustments that need to be made. This story has a great ending because they actually made the change that needed to be made. It is one thing to take time and think about having the right priorities and to evaluate what is working and what is not, but it is another thing to actually do something about it. They did something about it. Will you and I?
This is not the most complicated thought but it is important to remind ourselves what is important. It is easy for drift to happen in our priorities if we are not careful. Jesus put it this way: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33