Written by Sarah Vanek.
86,400 seconds. 1,440 minutes. 24 hours. This is your day, whether you like it or not. And if you’re anything like me, there are many days you don’t like it—many days that you wish you could stretch the concept of time … maybe just fudge a few of the numbers. But the stark reality is that no matter how much we try, we can’t stop time. And oddly enough, we can’t stop using it either. So, we must learn to prioritize our priorities. Why? Three reasons.
Priorities are lived, whether intentionally or not.
Humor me. Take a few moments to think through how you spend a typical day. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Where do you spend the majority of your 24 hours? What’s the one thing that you must do before you go to bed? What keeps you up late at night? What gets you out of bed before the crack of dawn? What are the things that you’ve been meaning to do forever, but can never actually seem to get done?
Whether you realize it or not, you’ve just outlined your priorities. You see, the ways you spend your time (or don’t) reflect what you value. I don’t know about you, but that hits me hard. Why? Because if I wrote down what I truly value in life, the way I spend my time—my current priorities—would not match up. And the truth is that I’m not alone. Most of us face this disconnect.
Think about it. We claim to value our families, yet we put in more than 50 hours a week. We say that we value our health, yet you couldn’t catch us at the gym if you tried. Even worse, we claim to value our relationship with God, but do our lives reflect that?
Here’s the deal. Time doesn’t stop, and if we don’t actively prioritize the things we say we value, they’ll end up getting pushed to the bottom of the list. Not because we don’t care, but because priorities are lived—and choosing not to prioritize your priorities is an act of prioritizing in itself.
Your days are numbered.
That’s right, before you were even born, God set a number for your days. Take a moment to really let that soak in. Scripture says: “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16 NIV).
You see, whether we like it or not, we only have so much time on this earth. As this time is passing, it often seems like a bunch of meaningless moments. A moment that you took a snooze. A moment that you smiled. A moment that you cried. But as you know, these moments add up quickly. Before you know it, moments—for good or bad—have become days, months, and years. And soon, you’ve lived a lifetime.
If we don’t learn to prioritize our priorities, we will end up living necessitated ones. And when it’s too late, we’ll look back and notice that we wasted our days—the days God never had to give us, but chose to anyway.
Think about it this way. What if, the moment you were born, you were given a watch set to count down from the number of days you had on this earth? Each time you went to sleep, one more day was taken away. Personally, I believe the tangibility of this example would make death seem much more concrete in our minds. You see, though we are all acutely aware that there is a watch set on our lives—one that only the Master of the Universe has access to—we often fail to recognize the reality of that time. We know that sometime we’ll die, but we put that event so far into the future of our minds, that it doesn’t regularly impact the here and now. So, we must work to remember that our days are numbered. We must work to hide James 4:14 in our hearts, which says “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”
We are not promised tomorrow, so why do we live like it?
Lack of prioritizing leads to burnout.
One of the last most important reasons why it is essential for you to learn to prioritize your priorities, is because if you don’t learn to decide what is the most important, you will naturally end up trying to do everything. You will live priorities that are unintentional, all while simultaneously attempting to shove in everything you claim to value. Though you’ll feel like the master of your life for a while—proud of your ability to do everything—you WILL burnout.
Why? Because you were not designed to do everything. God created you with specific interests, talents, and opportunities, and has given you the chance to play a part in His plan. Just let that truth sit on your heart for a bit.
God doesn’t need any of us. He wants us. And He has given us gifts to accomplish His own purposes. But when we try to do everything—when we don’t prioritize our priorities—we get in our own way. We hinder our ability to maximize the gifts God has given, and that is a shame. And beyond that, we find ourselves at the point of burnout, because we end up wasting our time doing things that don’t really matter. When the Master’s watch ticks to zero on our lives, we find that we’ve spent our precious, numbered days on things that we don’t even hold at a high value.
Time is always ticking. We can’t stop it, and we can’t save it for later. We can’t stretch it out, and we can’t fudge the numbers. What we have is what we get. That’s why it’s so important for us to prioritize our priorities. Because priorities are lived, whether intentionally or not. Because our days are numbered. And because a lack of prioritization leads to burnout.
86,400. That’s how many seconds you have today. What you do with them is your choice. But they’ll be gone tomorrow, and you can’t have them back. So, choose wisely.