FIRST, SEEK THIS
Ken lived in the corporate world. Business meetings, interstate trips, spreadsheets, balance sheets, and long hours - very long hours. Ken's family though were paying a price for his high income. In the helter-skelter of his hectic lifestyle, Ken didn't quite make it to church with his family as often as he knew he should, until one surprising Sunday. It would be wrong to think that he got it right everytime from that day, he still had one more hard lesson to learn.
¶ "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?"
Ken justified his high-powered work-life by telling himself, and his wife and children, that he was "doing it for them." Being a Christian, he even justified his spiritual irresponsibility to God with all the predictable excuses. But then that day came. It was a Sunday. Ken went with his family to church that Sunday. He used to take them to church before he rose up the dizzing heights of the corporate ladder. It wasn't what was said, taught, or preached that Sunday - but it was what Ken heard that wrought the change.
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
Ken was a corporate tax accountant. And he was good at it. He considered himself a sincere and committed Christian. Being in church on this particular Sunday, something in Ken's soul was being strangely stirred. He began to pray. He reconnected with God with some slight hesitation. His Bible was open on his lap at Matthew chapter 6 when he heard God speak softly to his soul. "Get your priorities right" he heard God say. "How?" his heart replied. "God first, family second, work third."
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'
God first, Family second, and Work third. This became Ken's new mantra. He realised that to put God first he had to make an adjustment to his daily and Sunday priorities. He committed to read his Bible first thing everyday and attend church with his family every Sunday. This required a change in work patterns because he often brought work home and worked all weekend to get ready for important Monday morning meetings. But no more. Well, nearly no more as I'll explain shortly.
¶ "Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
Matthew 6:34 The Message
Ken's new mantra of priorities was soon tested. He had a client that had just been told they were going to receive a snap Tax Audit first thing Monday. They needed Ken to prepare the books which meant he would have to work this particular weekend. But he had already made a commitment to his young son that this Saturday morning he would take him to his T-ball game and watch him play. He tried to explain to his son why he couldn't go to his game. His disappointed son left for his uneventful match. Meanwhile, Ken tried to work on his client's books all that morning but couldn't make any significant progress. Sighing in frustration he heard, "God first, Family second, Work third." "God, are You saying that if I'd put my family before work and gone to my son's T-ball game, I would have this problem solved?" Ken knew the answer and left his work to try and catch the dying the minutes of his son's game. He then took his son out for a special father and son lunch. Later that day he rang his client on the other side of the country and apologised that he wouldn't be able to get their books done in time. They were extremely disappointed and threatened to take their business elsewhere. But Monday morning Ken received a call from the client. They told him that the Tax Office had just contacted them and told them their Tax Audit would be delayed by a week. They asked Ken to continue his work for them. After that call, Ken whispered yet another prayer to God, this time apologising and confessing his failure to get his priorities right. He remembered the verse from Matthew 6 that stood out to him that Sunday from his Bible on his lap-
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Ken came to realise that time with his family in church as they worshipped together was one of the greatest ways he could lead his wife and children. Rather than keep him from getting things done either at work or at home, Ken found that God seemed to honour him for putting Him first and his family second.
A SUDDEN END
Ken had learned some valuable lessons. He changed his priorities. He became involved in his local church. His fears that his new priorities would harm his business become unfounded. In fact, he told people that he now felt the blessing of God on his life and business and that time in church was time sown into God (and you always reap what you sow - which is good news for gardeners and those who feel they don't have enough time to maintain their homes). He began to receive invitations from other churches to share his story. He shared his simple list of priorities- God first, Family second, and Work third - and thousands of business people adopted his mantra and changed their priorities. He began receiving testimonies from people all over the world telling him that he had given them the courage to put God first, their Family second and their work third.
Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
Matthew 6:33 The Message
I was a teenager when I first heard Ken. His story was inspiring and impressive. His priority-mantra was contagious. I have tried to emulate it. To my shame, I have not always kept it. But it is my goal.
I was stunned to hear some time ago that Ken had suddenly died. Even though he didn't know it, his life would soon be over. He lived out his last days putting God first, his Family second and his Work third. Life's brevity and lack of guarantees has a way of highlighting a person's poor priorities. But Ken was fortunate because it wasn't a health scare that shocked him into reorganising his priorities - it was the Word of God. And it is from the Word of God that we find that Ken's list of priorities didn't originate with him.
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
Matthew 6:33 NLT