3 Ways to Practice the Spiritual Discipline of Prioritizing

Spiritual Practice of Prioritizing
Intentional living fosters a well-soul. But how can we discern what to say yes to and what to let go of? Here is the art of the spiritual discipline of prioritizing.

Janite Lee, a South Korean immigrant, reportedly won $18 million in the Illinois lottery and lived a generous lifestyle—she prioritized giving to education, politics, and social causes. Yet, within eight years, she owed $2.5 million.

What happened? She spent more than she had to give. Even though she lived generously—supporting all kinds of people—in the end, her mismanagement caused her to become enslaved to debt.

Her tale acts as a vivid picture about the importance of stewarding our resources. But one resource that we often don’t calculate as meticulously—is time. 

Recently all my kids started school and for the first time in 13 years, I have a chunk of hours in the middle of the day where I get to work for clients and on my passion project: the Well Soul.

The problem is, I want to do ten times what I actually have time for. In addition, opportunities knock when people think you have resources to share. “Since you have time now, can you grab lunch a couple times a month and disciple me?” “Now that you have time, will you lead another women’s Bible study?”

Good stuff. Things I want to do! But let’s be honest, five hours of daytime (by the time I drop off kids and need to leave for pick-up)—is really not that much time.

The tension the last few weeks propelled me into a swirl of anxiety. “Too much to do. . . too much to do,” I kept telling myself on repeat.

Do you ever feel like you’re running with too much to do?

Do you ever experience giving all you have to something, but it still seems like your priority is not enough?

I do.

One of my favorite sentences recorded that Jesus spoke is John 17:4. It is written He prayed to the Father,

“I have brought You glory on earth by finishing the work You gave me to do.”

Jesus brought God glory by prioritizing the work God gave him to do! He didn’t bring God glory by trying to do everything—but prioritizing the work the Father gave the Son.

I suggest one of the ways we foster a life of living with a well soul, is discerning what to give our time, energy, and resources too—so we are free from anxiety or stress about any of the other things left undone.

In other words, we practice the spiritual discipline of prioritizing. I call it a spiritual discipline because as believers, our prioritizing starts in our relationship with God through the Spirit.

3 Ideas to practice the Spiritual Discipline of Prioritizing

Spend time with the Father.

Dr. Wayne Stiles in his podcast, Live the Bible, teaches about Jesus’ model for discerning what the Father wanted him to do. Jesus often went away to a secluded place and prayed. In Mark chapter 1, the disciple of Jesus recorded that after one such prayer time, people clamored for Jesus’ attention, but Jesus said, “Let us go somewhere else—to nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come” (Mark 1:38).

Jesus spent time with the Father to discern His focused priorities. So too, we can make prayer and meditating on Scripture part of our practice of discerning God’s priorities for us.

Next week I will have a free download for you to use as a tool in your time with the Father as you seek discernment.

Aim to please the Lord.

I think one of the top reasons we miss discerning and living God’s priorities for us is our addiction to the opinion of others.

Remember this: Others opinions lead us down rabbit trails of rebellion.

Rebellion is simply living in opposite direction of God’s will. So, when we allow our perception of what others think to dictate our priorities, we place their plans for us above our worship and obedience to God.

Actually, let’s be real honest—people pleasing is a form of idolatry. Nothing should have our allegiance more than our allegiance to Christ.

Whose opinion do you weigh more than your desire to follow Christ? Be careful you are not living in practical idolatry.

When we aim to please the Lord more than people’s opinions, we open up our lives to live with w well soul.

Make necessary sacrifices.

Ouch. Sacrifices can feel painful.

Sometimes doing the work God gives us to do (John 17:4) requires painful sacrifices. One such person I think of is a friend of mine, Kaitlyn.

In college Kaitlyn discerned God leading her to attend seminary, yet her fiancé disagreed. He wanted Kaitlyn to submit to his ideas for their life together—which did not include moving to Dallas for her to attend seminary.

She prayed. She sought the Father through His Word and godly counsel. She finally realized she needed to sacrifice her dream of marriage for God’s priority for her education. She broke up with her fiancé and went to seminary.

She now is pursuing her PhD and has published two books educating the Church on the intersection of American religion and politics. She is prioritizing the work God has given her to do.

Our sacrifices might look different than hers (my sacrifice 13 years ago was giving up my career to focus on caring for my family for a season). Whatever it looks like, practicing the spiritual discipline of prioritizing might require necessary sacrifices.


  • Grab a piece of paper or a journal.
  • What are all the commitments and responsibilities you have that you can think of? Write a list.
  • Pray over the list, asking God what His priorities are for you. Write down what you think the Spirit might be leading you to prioritize.
  • Is there anything you might need to adjust in your time, resources, and energy to obey what you think might be the Spirit’s leading?

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