Weekly Thought – October 31, 2023
Fred consistently evaluated his priorities. His reminder to himself and others was “always stay current with the facts.” Fred’s life theme of “stretching others” played out to the end of his life. Even in ICU those who looked to his mentorship and wisdom visited. Bill Glass came to sit beside his bed and brought his notebook in case Fred had periods to consciousness to answer questions!
Often we hear people say, “After I get rich I’ll get righteous.” This is the deception of money – it can distract us from what really matters. Instead of being a means it becomes the end. Mary Alice and I have always reminded the children “Money is a tool, not an idol.” It is easy to fall into lazy patterns which make becoming who we want to be difficult. Making sure we line up our priorities correctly is a sure sign of maturity. Key life and priority checks and changers are the trials that come.
Major trouble challenges our priorities. It also revises, and I might even say, purifies. We decide what really matters. Trouble also gives us an opportunity to look at the situation realistically and assess the odds. A good friend after being diagnosed with leukemia told me “Fred, I had always believed in God, but for most of my life I couldn’t make sense of spiritual things, so I chose to just ignore the subject. I knew I would have to deal with my personal spirituality someday, but I wasn’t in any hurry. Cancer changed that.”
Our priorities benefit from trials in various ways – here are three:
1) We define the necessities. So much of our time and effort is spent (or better said, wasted) in the superficialities of life.
2) We ask ourselves “Am I happy with who am I becoming?” Often people come to talk and I ask this question. When they are looking for direction they usually answer, “Well, no, but I intend to be someday.” Without clarity in direction and progress “someday” rarely comes.
3) We think about how we want to be remembered. Trouble makes us think about legacy. What do we want on our tombstone? (NOTE: Fred wanted “He stretched others.” He did and those words are on the face of his stone in Restland Cemetery.)
When we have answered those questions then we know how to invest our time, energy, and attention. The answers give us a framework for prioritizing – or reprioritizing. We are stewards of these resources. Good management requires periodic inventory reviews to make sure we are making highest and best use of all resources.
During the dark financial days of the 1980s Dallas lost the stability of its three legs of its commercial stool: banking, energy, and real estate. Prosperity and prominence cratered. Formerly social leaders lost great wealth and position. One couple came to my office to talk about their situation. They told me when they saw an entirely new lifestyle they made a list of those who were friends because of social obligations and connections. Then they made a list of those who would truly be friends when and if they were broke. The second list was considerably shorter than the first. Their next step was to prioritize their time, focusing on the relationships that were healthy and true.
They understood what direction they wanted for their lives and surely were happy with the people they were becoming.
This week think about: 1) How do I answer Fred’s questions? 2) What would my “If I were broke” list look like? 3) Who can I help establish mature priorities?
Words of Wisdom: “Good management requires periodic inventory reviews to make sure we are making highest and best use of all resources.”
Wisdom from the Word: “From whom does he receive directions? Who teaches him the correct way to do things, or imparts knowledge to him, or instructs him in skillful design?” (Isaiah 40:14 NET Bible)