The primary goal of my life is to live it wholly devoted to Christ; to become the person He created me to be. My second goal is to instruct and encourage others to do the same. I’ve read and listened to countless exhortations to put God first in your life, or to live a Jesus-centered life. I’ve written those very words on this blog many times.
What is often missing from these exhortations (and I stand guilty here as well) is an explanation of how to do this in practical terms. How do we center our lives on Jesus and live wholly devoted to Him when myriad distractions are assaulting us every day? How do we live for Heaven and still survive on earth?
Career and Responsibilities
For most of us, the older we get, the more responsibilities we accumulate. That means our time gets fractured among the various tasks required to fulfill those responsibilities. Judging by what I read and the conversations I have, almost everyone feels like there isn’t enough time to get everything done. Given this, the one thing that seems easiest to squeeze out of our lives is that which is most important. Our relationship with Jesus often withers on the vine as we spend our days in other pursuits.
It’s easy to see why this happens. Our careers take a huge chunk of our time, as do our more mundane daily tasks, such as cooking, doing laundry, and performing home repairs. These are necessary things that we cannot ignore. The time spent in our careers should be only as much as we need to spend there doing excellent work as if we are working for God Himself (Colossians 3:17). Spending extra hours for the sake of getting ahead or to avoid a less than ideal life outside of work is something you may need to deal with, but I’m going to assume the reason you are working is to provide for yourself and others, and not as a source of your identity or an escape.
Define your Buckets
So, this leaves us with everything else on which we spend our time. This is where our biggest opportunity is for living our lives wholly devoted to Christ. This is the uncomfortable part, where we must examine our habits and desires and hold them up to the standard of Jesus to see if they have any place in our life. For me, everything I do outside of my career and home responsibilities has to fall into one of five buckets: God’s Word (study, reading, devotions), prayer, relationships (wife, family, friends), writing (the area in which I believe God has uniquely gifted me to instruct and encourage others), or health (because I can’t serve God and others as well if I’m always sick or lacking energy). If what I’m about to do doesn’t fall in one of those God-honoring categories, then I don’t do it.
Now, do I do this perfectly? Of course not! I am still an imperfect being bent towards sin. But the more I focus on only doing things that fall into one of the categories above, the more I find old habits sloughing off and my life growing ever closer to being wholly devoted to Christ. The hard part is acknowledging that to only do those things that bring honor to God, we must let go of much of what we have done and enjoyed for perhaps years. What we do, watch, listen to, and say must change because they won’t fit into one of our defined God-honoring buckets. Perhaps your categories will differ from mine, but feel free to borrow mine.
Live Wholly Devoted to Christ
It’s important we don’t compartmentalize our lives into work, responsibilities, and God. We have only one life, not three. Honor God in the way you do your job and in your interactions with co-workers. Find ways to praise Him in the mundane tasks you must do each day (I highly recommend Brother Lawrence’s short book, “The Practice of the Presence of God”, to help you here). And then determine your buckets for everything else. Each one should directly lead you to become the person God created you to be, in perfect union with Him and focused on doing His will on earth, just as it is in Heaven. Courageously rid yourself of everything that does not honor God. Live your life wholly devoted to Christ.