If you are like me, the fundamental desires of your heart are to live a life well lived. To most of us, this means being financially independent, spiritually fulfilled, surrounded by friends and family who love us and with whom we enjoy being around.
We want to be able to give and make a difference in the world, simply because there is an innate desire to find purpose for our lives and leave this world, knowing we left a footprint of some sort.
In my pursuit, I can honestly say God blessed me with a great wife, two incredible children, a compassionate heart, and a true desire to help others. Unfortunately, my intentions shifted my priorities, and before I realized it, my life was falling apart.
Most of us have been taught to put others first.
Truthfully, I discovered that was faulty teaching. Albeit sounds noble, the reality is putting others first is idolatry and not God's will.
Yes, I know. Churches teach the opposite, using Christ as the example. He clearly put others first because He sacrificed everything for all humanity, up to and including dying on a cross for all mankind. Yes, He did. And for that, I, for one, am eternally grateful.
Might I challenge you to delve deeper into the word of God and discover that putting others first is not the formula for success.
Here is the 3-step formula to super-charge success:
Wow! Of course, we all get the "GOD first" part, but then the immediate signs of "SELFISH" pop up. But, let me explain this formula.
We all know that anything and everything placed above God is idolatry. It's a sin. God should always be first and foremost in our work, family, personal faith, business, money, etc. That's a given. Yet, we so often fail to put Him first. More often than not, He's an after-thought. Often forgotten or called upon until there is a major crisis in our lives, we like to declare that God is first in our lives, when the reality is He's not.
It's easy to forget about Him. After all, He's an unseen, non-tangible, spirit-being that often goes by the wayside, unintentionally, when life demands so much from us.
And we wonder why life is such a challenge.
The answer is life is a challenge when God is not the first priority or center of all you do! That doesn't mean you have to be all religious and walk around like a monk. Be yourself, but keep God at the forefront of every decision, prayer as the first line of evaluation when making those decisions, and repentance when we fail.
Second in the formula for success is YOURSELF. Now, before you get all hot and bothered or filled with a big ego, let me share the truth of why YOU should be second in your list of priorities. For years, I put everyone else first (often even before God), thinking that if I put myself in the mix, I was being selfish and self-centered.
I know many who are so self-consumed that they don't have time to care for others. It is clear that they are their top priority, and they often don't care how their choices and decisions impact those around them. As long as they are happy, that's all that matters to them. These are users and abusers, and do not have a healthy sense of putting themselves in second place.
Being second, even above loved ones and others, is not an act of selfishness when you fully understand it. During my time of putting everything and everyone above me, I soon discovered I was neglecting the very gift of life God gave me. I neglected my body, my spiritual walk, and my mental health. I often ignored simple things as going to the doctor for an annual check up, spending one-on-one time with God for my own personal spiritual replenishment, or taking time to give my mind a break!
The end result was I was falling apart, and soon became ineffective in helping others, too!
A friend of mine pointed out that I was working harder than ever but getting further in the hole. He reminded me that God's instruction was similar to that of a flight attendant. In their safety flight instructions, the flight attendants always tell us that in case of an emergency, and should the oxygen masks be deployed, be sure to place the oxygen mask securely over your own nose and mouth before attempting to help others.
This is a simple example of the importance of taking care of yourself before helping others, because if you don't take care of the temple God gave you, you will not effectively help others to your greatest capacity.
After all, a sick and dying person who has neglected their bodies cannot help another person in any way, shape, or form, least of all their loved ones.
That leads me to the third and fourth steps: family and others.
Family is priority number three because God put family in place to be your closest confidantes. They know more about you and you them than anyone else in the world. They are intended to be your greatest cheerleaders, advocates, and accountability partners. Granted families are less than perfect, and most everyone has a dysfunctional family largely in part to the fact not all of them know Jesus. And even if they do know Jesus, many choose not to act like it. But, that's beside the point.
Others include everyone who is temporary. Basically, these are people you encounter for specific seasons in your life. More often than not, it may be a one-time encounter that lasts a few short minutes or for a season, as in co-workers and friends. Few people actually make tons of life-long friends. Friends are fleeting, and are often granted to us for a specified season and then everyone moves on. You are blessed if you end up with a single or handful of life-long friends, who usually are considered family.
All four are important to your success in every area of your life. When you get the formula right, you have laid the foundation, and success WILL follow!