How to Put First Things First

By Leigh Byers, DBA, Executive Director of Wellspring

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Is the journey of our lives a compilation of circumstances that happen to which we react, or circumstances which we bring about through proactive choices? The answer is both. We have no control over the circumstances to which we are born, where and who we live with as a child, the world systems around us, etc. The list can go on and on. However, the realms of our minds and spirits are ones in which we can be proactive. These realms are places that intentional change is possible. Our minds, coupled with our wills, can be changed. Our spirits coupled with our willingness to submit, can be transformed. What is the one intentional habit that can be embraced in 2018 to start the wheels of change? A devotional life—reading, reflection, and prayer.

As a young Christian over 25 years ago, I wrestled with the idea that this would be the most important part of my life. I am a Type A, doer, and pragmatist. Surely, the doing is more important than the sitting and thinking? However, time and maturity have proven that it is in the intentionality of my devotional life where I find restoration, focus, and victory. Recently, I picked up the book, 50 People Every Christian Should Know: Learning from the Spiritual Giants of the Faith by Warren W. Wiersbe. The book reviews 500 years of men and women who are foundational to the evangelical and mainline denominations of today. The common thread among them is a rigorous devotional life.

Perhaps one of my early concerns of giving myself over to a fuller devotional life was I did not want to turn into an oddity over my faith. Is God going to require me to do something out of my comfort zone? Some of these Spiritual Giants in history faced many trials and obstacles with their ministries and health. Most never saw the full impact of their work. The devoted lives they led surely do not parallel with the options of comfort, leisure, and medical care the world offers us today in America. The fear of suffering even a little for my faith evoked my hesitancy. However, the hunger for a closer walk with God has drawn me to embrace a devotional life. Encouragement through my devotions has overcome the fear of what I have been asked to do in faith.

As I mentioned, I am a pragmatist and a doer. It is not likely I could ever spend hours in devoted prayer and Bible reading on a daily basis. I think God is okay with how he wired me. However, the principles of incorporating a devotional life into my daily activities—an active, intentional effort to relate to God—is something God desires from me. A devoted life is not to meet the demands of a controlling God, but to meet the needs of my hungry soul for acceptance, love, and direction.

Before the new year starts, is it time to plan for how to incorporate or restart your devotional habits? Here are some questions to ponder:

When can I consistently spend time with God? (i.e., consider time of day, location)

What will I read? (i.e., a Proverb a day, the Bible in a year, etc.)

How will I reflect? (i.e. journaling letters to God, prayers)

If you would like to spend more time learning and being encouraged on this topic, I will be presenting a one-hour session on The Healthy Habit of a Daily Devotional Life at Wellspring’s Living ABundantly Seminar—The Science and Art of Healthy Habits. I hope to see you there!