What are the ten most important things to you? Narrowing it down to ten is challenging because lots of “things” are very important.
Maybe most of us would start with our families. The families we grew up in shaped us in so many ways and many feel a great pride in their ancestry. Our children and grandchildren, if we’re so fortunate to have them, constitute a major blessing for most people.
We may consider our marriage or romantic partnership part of family but it may deserve its own place on the list. This relationship shows us that we are loved, gives us a place to express love, and allows us to know affirmation and appreciation. This relationship also calls out of us perhaps our greatest challenge in life as we continue to grow with one who still chooses to love us despite knowing us at our worst.
Health would be high on most peoples’ list, either the good health we have or the poor health we’re trying to recover from. How we feel physically and emotionally dictates so much of the rest of life. Maybe we take health for granted until something goes wrong but it is a chief concern for all of us.
Financial security would get a lot of top ten votes. We spend a lot of life trying to make enough to pay the bills and afford a comfortable lifestyle. Once we have enough to get by, we seem to want to make more money so that we can retire one day or not be a burden for our children and grandchildren. Some of us want to leave a legacy of sorts so that future generations can benefit from our money.
Maybe the home(s) you live in would be in the top ten. Not only do our homes provide us safety and comfort, but these are the places we entertain our friends and celebrate special events. Sometimes these are just houses or apartments we live in but we usually try to make them reflect our own personalities and invite others to enjoy them with us. Some have a cherished vacation home or get-a-way place that is a haven from the everyday pressures.
Our vocation or career is mighty important to many of us. It’s where we spend the majority of our waking time and our jobs are the way we affect some change in the world. Even if it just provides a paycheck, that makes it important, but a career is often a primary way we meet some need in the world with our own gifts and skills.
That’s already six things that may be on your top ten list and there are still many unnamed. Recreation – golf, tennis, running, hiking, hunting, fishing, for instance – may be very important to you. These days our children’s recreation takes a tremendous amount of our time. Your political party or views may be on your list. The country we live in and the freedoms we enjoy certainly are things we are grateful for. Books and reading are important. And football. We can’t forget football. A recent New York Times poll reveals football in the state of Alabama is higher on the list of priorities than any other state in the country. Success is pretty addictive.
Since you’re reading this post in this context, it’s probably safe to assume you would put God on the top ten list. Related to that may be church involvement, prayer discipline, and meditation.
We all know God and the Church should be on our top ten list but where do they actually fall on a given day? We may have all that God-stuff on our list but is that reflected in how we spend our time or is that a place we express corresponding commitment?
Over the years as I have led parishes and designed programs and planned liturgical celebrations, I have come to learn that, in terms of commitment expressed, church matters are simply one of the things on people’s list. And honestly we have to be reminded pretty regularly to keep God and church matters even in the top ten. We know all that should be the most important thing in our lives but we act like it’s just one of the many things we have to juggle. We try to squeeze church things in here and there when we can.
Honestly, even as a priest, it’s hard to remember what is most important in life. We all get hammered by our schedule and obligations. Suddenly it feels like we’re the victim and have no control over how we prioritize our time.
Examine your list of most important things. What does it reveal about you and what changes might you be called to make? The measure you give will be the measure you get (Mt. 7.2).
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.