1st, 2nd, or 3rd?

by Judi Chow

Have you ever felt like you didn’t hear something right? I had this feeling when my friend introduced her husband to me, “This is Second, my husband.” “Huh… Oh, hi, Ss…” Dare not to repeat the name fearing it might be Simon instead of Second. “Yes, it is S-e-c-o-n-d, meaning Jesus is first in my life.” Well now, that is a bold statement, a good testimony, and great conversation material! Ever since then I have put Second at the top of my special name list, until recently I came across an article entitled, “I am Third.” I don’t know anyone personally by the name- Third; it could have topped Second! Actually, the article was about some teenager who went to camp where he was taught the priorities in life should be God first, other people second, and I am third.

It was a revelation to this kid to place himself third while the media is brainwashing us all to look out for number one- oneself. Maybe kids nowadays need to be reminded to put others before themselves, so they can be more self-sacrificing instead of going with the current self-centeredness. After all, this is part of our spiritual heritage; most missionaries and ministers I know are obliged by this golden rule of putting people’s needs before their own or even their family’s. Some have creatively blended God and ministry together and placed that first in their priority resulting in burnout. Yet, in their mind and heart, they have followed the golden rule of putting God first, others second, and themselves third or even last!

What’s wrong with this priority list? Can we go by a list all the time anyway? Do we make decisions by meticulously going over our priority list? For example, one morning as I was leaving for my weekend personal retreat to uninterruptedly focus on God, suddenly the phone rang and someone was crying incoherently talking about her husband’s abuse. She wanted me to help her escape. What was I to do? How do I put this situation into a priority list of first, second, or third? The older I get, life seems to become more complicated. It is not just simply black or white; there are all shades of grays in between, not counting the color spectrum.

May I suggest a very simple priority list by asking yourself, who is really first in your life? Is it others? Is it God? Is it ministry? Is it your own desires or needs? If God is really first, then ask Him who or what He wants to place in second or third or last on your priority list! He’ll tell you; more than that, He’ll show you. You might be surprised; God’s priority list usually is quit different from ours. What I need to keep tabs on is always checking Who is on the top of my list.

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