It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Ephesians 5:1, NIV)
We moved back to the States right about a year ago. One thing I noted immediately was how many opportunities one gets bombarded with in a given day—advertisements, LinkedIn requests, friend requests, emails, solicitations (via email, phone, and door-to-door). This is a nation of hyper-busy people. As human history has progressed, the amount of time we have hasn’t changed: we still have 24 hours in a day. The difference is that we now have more opportunities than ever. Therefore, it is more important than ever to learn to say, “No.”
The upcoming new year conjures up thoughts of goal setting season. The purpose of goals is to know what direction you should go and thus what to say “No” to when inevitable opportunities arise that would take you a different direction. We should take this time, then, to ask our Master to tell us what we should spend our time on in 2023 while remaining flexible enough to acknowledge legitimate changes in priority.
You have likely heard of the following analogy: you have a bucket and various sizes of rocks. In order to fit them all, you cannot put the smallest rocks in first or the big ones won’t have space. If you put the big ones in first, the small ones can fit between the big ones as they are poured in. The point of the exercise is that we should prioritize, taking care of what is most important first, or nothing will end up working.
I would add one point: the goal is not simply to fit as many things as possible, but to leave space for one thing in particular: generosity. This principle works with respect to both time and money. If we have overcommitted ourselves and never have free time, we cannot assist people in need (this is the one I struggle with the most!). We cannot be financially generous if we have spent every dollar we made this month. We need margin in our lives, both with time and finances. The way of Jesus is to leave space, not so that we can have an easier life or have more time to watch Netflix, but so that we can be free to bless when the Father gives us opportunity to do so.
Interestingly, the word “priority” entered the English language in the 1400s. It meant the “prior” or preeminent thing (the first thing!) and remained singular until the 1900s when we pluralized it as “priorities.” Somehow by pluralizing it we thought we could shape a new reality for ourselves by focusing on more than one “first” thing.
I want to encourage you (and me!) to live more free in 2023. Free to be generous with our time and resources, free from unnecessary media distractions, free to be with Jesus more as we go through each day. May God give His grace to you in abundance as you pursue freedom in 2023 (Galatians 5:1)!
“The clock is the first of many inventions of its genre that man in his arrogance began to think freed him from the control of something only to find himself enslaved to something else. Here was man’s declaration of independence from the sun, new proof of his mastery over himself and his surroundings. Only later would it be revealed that he had accomplished this mastery by putting himself under the dominion of a machine with imperious demands all its own.”
-Daniel J. Boorstin
Greg is the President of OPEN USA. He used his education to work as a tentmaker in the Middle East for 8.5 years seeking to plant a church amongst a least-reached people group. Currently back in the USA with his wife and children, they aim to return to finish what the LORD used them to start.
To learn more about B4T, read Business for Transformation by Patrick Lai.