The Peripheral Should Be the Priority

My week tends to revolve around two different times: Sunday at 9am and Tuesday at 6am. Sunday at 9am is the culmination of a week of preparation. Tuesday at 6am those preparations start all over again.

The times of studying for a message, practicing music, or coordinating with people involved with something on Sunday quickly rises to the top of the priority list. And then there’s meeting with people, knowing their lives, and prayerfully considering how best to care for and disciple them.

These are the things that make my to-do list each week. These are the things that cause me to wake up at 4am with floating thoughts. These are the things that are the highest priority in my life.

Yesterday I went to the park across the street with my son. Monday is my day off, and my wife is usually busy working, so it’s a fun day of father-son time. Before that we wrestled in the living room for an hour. As much as I enjoy those times I tend to see them as a peripheral—the things I have to do until I can do what I want to do.

time with the boy in the park

Yesterday something landed differently in me. I have a to-do list the length of fiction novel for the week ahead, but I haven’t touched it. Yesterday I focused on the peripheral things, and made them the priority. Because I don’t damage people when I fail to finish my to-do list, but I only get one chance to be a husband, dad, brother, son, and friend to those nearest me.

During the month of October my wife organized a bunch of friends and family members who blessed me on different days. Texts from Seattle, a letter from NYC, lunch with a friend from Portland, dinner delivered to my door. Too bad normal months aren’t like that!

For me it was a startling reminder that the summary of my life in those previous 30 years is not found in any of my accomplishments. I have two degrees. I’ve written a book. I own a house. All these are great accomplishments that I’m proud of, but none of them took time to say, “thank you for being in my life.” I hope that in the next 30 years I have more accomplishments in people than I do in things.

Today is here in front of me now. The to-do list is being punched in the face. But this week I decided not to make it the priority, and I don’t think you should either.