How to Put God First as Your Top PriorityJun 23, 2020
What's Your Excuse for Not Putting God First?
We’ve all heard many excuses for why people don't put God first. And we may have given our own excuses for not making time for God or making God a priority in our lives.
“I get up too early for work. I don’t have time in the mornings.”
“It’s too hard to fit time in with my schedule right now. I’ve been SO BUSY.”
“My kids get up too early. I never have time to myself.”
“I have to work out first thing in the morning or else it will never happen. When I get home from work, I’m just too exhausted to read my Bible.”
It can be easy to think we don't have time for God with our busy schedules and never ending to-do lists. Working, grabbing coffee with a friend, cooking dinner, working out, spending time with the fam, travelling, etc.
Just like your workout routine, it’s easy to say that you don’t have time to fit it in or that you’re too busy or tired to work out. If you’ve successfully found a routine with your workout schedule, you know it’s not about having enough time to work out, it’s about making it a priority.
When it comes to spending and making time for God, it’s the same logic. It’s not about having enough time to fit God in, it’s about putting God first and making a priority in your schedule.
A priority is defined as something that is given special attention or something that takes precedence or is more important before other things.
We naturally prioritize the relationships we value the most. Since your relationship with God is the most important relationship you'll ever have, why wouldn't your relationship God be treated any different?
The Bible even tells us to put God first and that when we do, God will provide our every need.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” –Matthew 6:33
If you read all of Matthew 6, you’ll notice that Jesus talks about this verse in the context of anxiety and worrying. Matthew 6:33 is one of my favorite verses but I often forget the context of this verse.
Jesus tells us not to worry about what we will eat, drink or wear and that when we seek God first, he will provide our every need. He tells us not to worry about tomorrow because tomorrow will worry about itself.
Too often, I find myself overwhelmed with how busy my schedule looks. I look at all the events and obligations on my calendar and I worry how I’m going to get it all done.
But God is so loving and reminds me that when I worry about getting it all done, I’m focusing too much on what is possible in my own strength instead of trusting in God’s strength.
In the busy world that we live in, it’s like Jesus is telling us not to worry about having enough time to get it all done.
When we think we are too busy to spend time with God, we are doing the opposite of what he calls us to do.
Seek the Kingdom of God FIRST…
We are called to put God FIRST. Not after everything else in our calendar gets our attention. Not after we check our emails and Instagram in the morning. Not after we finish our to-do lists. Not after we get everything done for work. Not if we have enough time and energy before bed.
Not after your work, your spouse, Instagram, your dog, the beach, your workout, or whatever else you are using as an excuse for why you don't have time for God.
Just like Jesus calls us to do in Matthew 6:33, we must proactively seek time with God daily and make God a priority.
What Are Your Priorities?
In my blog post Are You Flexing Your Spiritual Muscles, we talk about setting intentional goals to grow spiritually to get the relationship with God you’ve been seeking.
With the Spiritual Goals Worksheet, I discuss 10 different spiritual areas and disciplines and 46 example spiritual goals to consider as you assess and set your own spiritual goals.
If you haven't set your goals or defined how you will grow closer to God, download your free Spiritual Goals Worksheet to set your own goals.
Now that you know what your goals are, how are you going to accomplish them? How are you going to make God and other spiritual disciplines a priority in your schedule?
You can set all the goals you want but unless you make God a priority in your life, you aren’t going to get the spiritual growth that you want.
If you are struggling to make time for God, you need to ask yourself if you’re really putting God first. With anything in life, it’s not a matter of finding more time to do something, it’s a matter of adjusting our priorities.
We make time for the things and people we prioritize. When something is a priority, you make time and schedule it first and then plan the rest of your day around your priorities.
If you keep trying to fit in God around your schedule, you may not be putting God first or making time with him a priority above other things in your life.
If you truly want to grow closer to God and to grow spiritually, you need to put God first. You need to make God the center of your life. God should always be your top priority no matter what season or stage of life you are in.
If you aren’t sure what you have been prioritizing, take a look at your calendar or jot down how you’ve spending your time throughout the day.
What do you do in the morning before work? How much time do you spend scrolling on Instagram a day? (Hint: Your phone can even track your screen time automatically to help with this one.)
How much time are you spending watching TV a day? Are you saying yes to more responsibilities at work instead of saying yes to God?
Do you have 3% of your day to spend with God?
Let's say your goal is to spend 30 minutes a day with God reading his word and in prayer. Did you know that 30 minutes of your day is only 2% of your day?
I know you have to sleep so let’s assume you sleep a nice 8 hours. Committing to spending 30 minutes with God is still only about 3% out of the hours of the day that you are awake!
Don’t tell me that you don’t have time to spend 3% of your waking hours with God.
I totally have been guilty of prioritizing other things before God. I used to travel a lot for work where I would work during the day and then often go out to dinner with the team in the evenings. That left only my mornings to work out and spend time with God.
I knew I couldn’t compromise my 7 hours of sleep so I found myself working out most mornings and only spending a few minutes with God in the Bible.
It was easy to justify or make excuses for why I wasn't making time for God. I needed to work out since I was going out to eat more. I needed to bond with the team. I was too tired from all the travelling. Praying in my hotel room wasn't the same as praying in the comfort of my own home. I needed to work late to get the client deliverable done.
Even though I felt good working out, I quickly realized my priorities were out of whack. I was feeling good physically but spiritually I felt dull throughout the day and throughout my week.
I found I needed that time with God each morning to fuel me for the day. I needed to spend time in his presence and in his word to get my day started.
God shows up wherever we are but we have to show up first. I learned to say no to the team some nights so I could work out in the evenings instead. I learned how to give myself grace for skipping a work out some mornings if it meant spending much needed time with God in his word and in prayer.
When I shifted my priorities, I felt the spiritual strength I needed to not just get through the day but to thrive in whatever God put in my path.
If you’ve been struggling to fit time in with God in your schedule, stop trying to fit him in. Give him at least the 3% of your day that he deserves.
We try and fit God into our schedules but he wants to be a part of everything we do. Stop trying to fit him in and make God the center of your life.
How to Put God First In Your Schedule
- Decide right now that you are going to make God your top priority. Don't just try and see what happens. Decide and commit in your heart to put God first. Admit that what you've been doing in the past isn't working and that it's time to take action and do things differently to put God first. Pray to God and admit that you need help putting him first. Ask God to help you in this area and for the passion and desire for him to grow.
- Make God a priority and schedule in time with him every day first before anything else. Arrange all your other obligations around him.
- Pick a time of day that is realistic with your schedule and with your energy levels. While time in the morning is best for a lot of people, if you do actually work super early or struggle to get up every day and find yourself having more energy at night, then commit to time later in the day that is more achievable for you.
- Do whatever you need to do to hold yourself accountable. Schedule a date with God every day in your calendar. Write it on your mirror. Set an alert on your phone. When you are tempted to cancel, just think, do you want to cancel that date with God again? How would you feel if he cancelled on you because he was tired?
- Grab an accountability partner. Tell a friend that you are working on spending more time with God and ask them to follow-up with you to help hold you accountable. Ask them for advice on how they make God a priority in their own lives. Do a bible reading plan together and make a goal to discuss what you are reading on a regular basis.
- Plan ahead to limit distractions. Turn that phone on airplane mode or even off for once. Walk the dog ahead of time. Grab a snack and make sure you're coffee is warmed up before you sit down.
- Learn how to say no and be honest with your loved ones when they are asking for more of your time - that you need to start saying yes to God more.
- Find a Bible that you enjoy. There are so many versions of the Bible out there. If your eyes are glazing over as you read all the 'thous' and 'shalls', choose a different version. My first Bible was the NLT version and now I'm enjoying my CSB study Bible. You can view different translations for the same bible verse by switching the translation in the Bible app to see which translation resonates with you.
- Select a devotional book or plan from the Bible app that you are excited to learn about. A lot of devotional books or reading plans can be focused on a certain topic that will get you more excited to read.
- Join a small group or bible study at your church and make the commitment to show up and be engaged. When you sign up for something in a group setting, the group will help hold each other accountable.
When you put God first, you find you have more time for the other things in your life and you can do them better because you had your time with God.
When you make God a priority in your schedule, you’ll find that you have more peace, time and energy to do everything else you thought was more important. You’ll start doing things more efficiently. You’ll have more joy and less stress as you get through your work day.
Your whole day changes when you put God first. Today is a new day. Put God first and get ready to see a shift in all that you do.
Now that you've made God a priority, have you defined how you will grow spiritually?
Have you defined how you will get closer to God? Have you assessed which spiritual disciplines you need to strengthen and which areas you want to focus on for your spiritual growth?
In my blog post Are You Flexing Your Spiritual Muscles, I talk about the importance of setting spiritual goals to get the spiritual growth you've been seeking.
To help you set spiritual goals, I created a Spiritual Goals Worksheet that will walk you through 10 different spiritual areas and disciplines to help you come up with your spiritual goals.
The worksheet provides an overview and 46 example goals and space to assess and write down your goals for each area.
I can't wait to hear how you've grown with God as you make time with him and your spiritual goals a priority!
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