Do This First

Right as July turns to August, I feel the rush of a new semester starting. Speaking events, radio interviews, podcasts, university meetings, manuscript deadlines–all of it. This list doesn’t include the regular tasks of keeping a home, organizing family events, and spending time with people. This list doesn’t include meal-planning and cooking which can take the better part of a day! How do people stay organized and make the right choices with their time?

The most strategic thing I’ve learned to do is pray first.

In John 14, Jesus says, “I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.”Jesus took instructions from God. He didn’t say yes to every need; He didn’t go to all the places people wanted Him to go. My mentor at Michigan once told me this: Jesus didn’t come to meet the needs of people but to do the will of the Father. That statement struck me profoundly. Everyone needed Jesus, but He only did exactly what the Father told Him to do. I think He was letting us see the secret to planning a day.

Praying first means I talk to God about the opportunities before me and ask God for wisdom and direction. I ask these kinds of questions: If I say “yes,” how will it impact my marriage and family? Will it be a blessing, increase oneness in my marriage, and help advance my goals of loving God and loving others? Do I feel increasing peace about a “yes” or do I feel confused and unsettled?

There’s a reason I keep my family calendar at home in my kitchen and not on my phone. I never have a calendar physically with me. Why? This way, I can say, “I don’t have my planner with me, but I will get back to you in the next few days.” Keeping my calendar away from me (and not on my phone), gives me a buffer to take time to pray and check in with my family before I commit to anything.

I place my schedule in front of God. I ask for wisdom, direction, and peace. I take out what needs to go and put in what needs to be there. I want to do exactly what God wants me to, no more and no less.


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