What to Do When Your Priorities are Mixed Up?


41 The Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things. 42  One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part. It won’t be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42

I don’t know if this is a true story or not, but I suspect it is true, in that it was in a book by Steve Farrar titled, Standing Tall: How a Man Can Protect, His Family.

Dr. Robert Shuller was on a whirlwind book promotion tour in which he was visiting eight cities in four days. He was keeping an exhausting schedule in addition to maintaining his duties as pastor of what we now know as The Crystal Cathedral. As he was going over his itinerary, his secretary reminded him that when they returned home, he was scheduled to have lunch with the winner of a charity raffle.  The winner had paid $500 for the privilege of sharing that lunch with the Dr. He was quite pleased that his presence was so highly valued until he learned that it was his daughter who had paid $500 for his “undivided” attention.

 Priority Check up

Have there been moments in your life where you have gotten your priorities all mixed up?

Maybe you can relate to this list.  Here is my moment of transparency.  I get my priorities mixed up more times than I can to admit.

  • I work too hard and play too little.
  • I tend to major in the minors.
  • Make mountains out of molehills.
  • Worship at the altar of success and accomplishment.
  • My number one strength is competition. Losing is not an option.
  • I fail to place God first.
  • My prayer life is sporadic.
  • I tend to talk more to God than listen to God.
  • My priorities are:
    • Self-centered
    • Me-focused
    • Anxiety-ridden
    • Completely and totally out of line with God’s desire for my life.
    • In short, I am a sinner in need of God’s grace.

The world can easily trick us into focusing our attention on worldly things.  Satan plays on our weakness.  He loves to points out our shortcomings.  Satan tries to convince us that we are not worthy, nor worth much, and makes us questions why God would want us?

When Jesus came to visit Mary and Martha, Mary wants time to meditate on the Words of Jesus, while Martha focused on the mundane.  Which sister are you?

Do you stop when the opportunity arises to sit in the presence of the Almighty, like Mary?  Do you have the ability to stop whatever it is you are doing and say no this is the one thing that is needed?  Is my soul thirsty?  Is my spirit dry?  You need to take the time to drink at the well of the Savior.  Feed me Lord! Fill my thirsting spirit with your powerful message of hope.  Somehow you are not wired that way.  You are not a Mary.  You wish you were more like Mary.  To have to ability to quiet your mind and just sit in the presence of God and allow him to speak to your heart and soul. If you are what a blessing God has given you.  Jesus says, to you Mary, you have chosen the better thing.

Unfortunately, you are a Martha.  You are pushing the envelope.  You desire to be on the cutting edge.  You are used to running on near empty.  Your goal is to give it all you’ve got.  Striving for perfection so much so that you have a hard time slowing down the pace.   You see Martha as a go-getter.  She is the kind of person we are trying to raise your kids to be.  She is the high-achiever.  The tireless worker.  When you need to get something done, we don’t call the Mary’s of the world we call Martha.  Martha delivers the project ahead of schedule.  Martha will get the job done.  Martha will make sure every “I” is dotted, and every “T” crossed.  So why does Jesus not praise Martha in this text?  He is wagging his heavenly finger at her disapproving of her life choices.  I don’t know about you, but this book makes me uncomfortable.  I am a Martha.  I work hard.  I would be making sure everything is ready.  But why would our Lord ignore that kind of commitment?  That kind of dedication?

It reminds me of the scene from my favorite movie, “A Few Good Men.”  It was after the court case where the two soldiers were found not guilty of Young Santiago’s death.  But they were dishonorably discharged for giving young Santiago a “Code Red.” Santiago was not performing his duties up to standard.  So the “Code Red” was under the military radar discipline. The one soldiers asked, “What did we do wrong?  We followed orders, “What did we do wrong?” Corporal Dawson, the other soldier on trial, said, “We were supposed to fight for those who are weak to fight for themselves.  We were supposed to fight for Santiago.”  That is the message for us Martha’s today.  We can be busy doing magnificent things.  However, they are not the right things.  Jesus pointed out to Martha, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things. 42One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part. It won’t be taken away from her.”

What is that One Thing?

That one thing, that is more precious than silver; that cannot be snatched away from us.  That one thing that will not fail.  What is that one thing that no thief can break in and still?  That will not rust, or lose value, is the saving message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Today instead of my usually three-point message, I have only one point.  There is not a clever application of this.  I only want you to get this one point.  Only one thing is needed:  You need to hear the Gospel of Jesus death and resurrection more than anything else you value in the world.

What is that Gospel Message?

It is the life-saving message that Jesus was born of a virgin, as both the Son of God yet also Son of Man.  He lived an obedient life dedicated to carrying out the will of His Father.  The Jewish leaders accused him of being a blasphemer, a devil worshiper, and a heretic.  They feared him, revered him, and put palm branches down to praise him.  They watched him, make the blind man able to see again, a lame man walk, a dead man, boy, and young girl were raised, a girl relieved of demons, water flowed into wine at a wedding in Cana, and chased money changers from the temple.  He proclaimed to the world that the kingdom of God was here, and that cause the Jewish leaders to call for his life.  He did not put up a fight, instead went like a lamb willingly with the soldiers to a kangaroo court, where the witness could not get their story straight.  Nevertheless, he was still found guilty. He was scourged, whipped and crowned with thrones.  He was forced to die a criminal’s death in front of a hostile crowd, which he forgave for having their priorities wrong.  He was taken down and placed in a borrowed tomb which he would not need for long, in three days he rose again.  To declare to the world that faith in this one, who rose is the ONE THING, that you NEED the most.  Nothing else matters.



13 thoughts on “What to Do When Your Priorities are Mixed Up?

  1. Gary Bertnick says:

    “A treasure hidden in a field”; “a pearl of great price”.
    It’s all the work of God. We can only pray for others to seek, search and find
    what only God can reveal to them. And pray to be His faithful vessels of Truth.


  2. Dave Small says:

    Hi Keith,

    I recently began following your blog and enjoy it — good writing, good ideas.

    I would like to add perspective on the “one thing” and suggest in addition to salvation Luke 10 includes discipleship. Mary sitting, listening, and learning at the feet of Jesus was recognizing Jesus as her teacher. It reminds me of Paul’s comment in Acts 22.3 — “at the feet Gamaliel”.

    Choosing the “one thing” of listening to Jesus adequately prepares us to be in relationship with Him, availability to our family, and complete our tasks (which still need to be done). When tasks come before discipleship (like Martha) — there’s no discipleship.

    The haunting story about Robert Shuller was excellent. Great post!


    1. Keith Haney says:

      Hi Dave good addition. I love that addition of Paul and Gamaliel. I am pleased that the blog has been a blessing. It has been way more fun to do than I imagined it would be in January. Thanks for following. Have a fantastic day in the Lord.


  3. Pingback: Glory to the Lord!
  4. Sammy J says:

    Wow..thank you very much for this piece. I just stumbled on it as I was reading one of your other posts. Indeed I have too many mixed up priorities and yes, social media usually takes a big part of my life so distracts me at times when I just wanna sit down and pick my Bible to read. I think even if we have to focus on our priorities, we need to avoid alot of self-centered things. Thank you so much. Might make me priority check-list soon enough.


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