Rethinking priorities: What matters most?
Yellow pads of paper filled with tasks. Page after page of calls to be made, reports to be written, meetings to attend. Every minute of my boss’s workday was booked. He was president of a research firm I worked for, and he was known by employees and clients alike as the consummate time manager.
His methods were impressive, to be sure. Effective time-management skills can be tremendously helpful. But for me there’s a lingering question: Do we have our priorities right? Are we paying attention to what ultimately matters most?
Many have found that prayer and spiritual discovery are the most important priorities for each day. Making time to quietly and prayerfully commune with God, Mind, strengthens our trust in God’s care, and cultivates an awareness of divine direction at work.
But what if our days (and nights) are already stuffed with tasks? What about those not-to-be-missed deadlines at work, projects that can’t be put off a minute longer, calls and emails waiting to be returned, and all those family needs? We can’t just turn our back on all that.
No, we can’t. These things shouldn’t be neglected. But then neither should spiritual growth. When circumstances aren’t going smoothly and we struggle to stay on top of things, we need to feel confident that utilizing spiritual resources isn’t something that adds to a sense of burden, or further limits our time or energy, but rather breaks through the feeling of limitation and successfully guides us forward. Every prayer to better understand the limitless nature of the good that belongs to God, that emanates from the divine Mind, is a freeing, spiritual step forward. This advancement in our understanding of the infinite and divine Mind, the source of wisdom and goodness, and of our relation to that Mind as the very expression of that wisdom and goodness, breaks through the human mind’s limited viewpoint as a go-it-alone mortal. Our thought opens up to God’s immeasurable good, and the intelligence that’s here to lead the way in all aspects of our lives.
Utilizing spiritual resources breaks through limitation.
We shouldn’t think that living more in accord with this spiritual view and way of life is in competition with all the other requirements in our day. Instead, doing so—striving to be more spiritually minded—reveals how to approach and prioritize responsibilities in the most insightful, orderly, and time-saving way. When we devote ourselves to having a clearer understanding of the endless good that Spirit, God, is expressing, we find ourselves distrusting the human mind’s claims of limited capacity and opportunity. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy writes: “The human capacities are enlarged and perfected in proportion as humanity gains the true conception of man and God” (p. 258).
This larger understanding of God reveals more of what we actually are—man (and the term man means all men, women, and children)—spiritual, whole, expressing all the good that constitutes the divine Mind and the divine nature. Man is the likeness of God, good, as the Bible indicates; he expresses the intelligence, wisdom, order, strength, and care that naturally flow from God and that characterize the divine government of the universe. As this is understood, we discover capacities and abilities that we might never have imagined were ours.
To recognize God as the one and only Mind—limitless, always present—and to lean more and more on this divine Mind, which we reflect as man, forwards our growth Spiritward, giving us more of the foresight and control we need to deal successfully with each day’s demands.
Reevaluating our priorities and giving more attention to understanding Mind, God, isn’t a matter of trying to cram spiritual ideas into a chock-full mind of our own. In fact, the belief that we have a personal, mortal mind of any kind is mistaken. Such a misapprehension is to be subordinated, and its cries of pressure, fear, and so forth are to be rejected, not accommodated. In this way we utilize the intelligence and order that belong solely to divine Mind and can be expressed by everyone, no matter what the situation. Science and Health points out a wise priority: “To divest thought of false trusts and material evidences in order that the spiritual facts of being may appear,—this is the great attainment by means of which we shall sweep away the false and give place to the true” (p. 428).
The intelligence and order of divine Mind can be expressed by everyone.
At times of peak demand it’s also important to realize that Mind doesn’t suspend its harmonious government. What’s needed is at hand every moment. We can pray, impelled by our heart’s deep desire to gain in spiritual understanding and to live a more spiritual life. And although we can certainly pray as we move through our days, it’s always helpful to designate sufficient time for prayer alone.
In the Bible we find an example of how Jesus prioritized prayer in his day: “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” (Mark 1:35). That priority still makes sense. An adjustment to our routine, postponing unnecessary activities, setting down our digital devices, or other changes may be needed in order to devote our whole heart and mind to such a highly important activity.
Spiritual advancement matters most because it opens up to us the realities of existence, of our real selfhood as spiritual and unlimited. Allowing for more of this divine influence in our daily life—a comforting and healing influence, not a stressful one—is really quite natural, and the good results are also quite natural. We find inspiration and express greater dominion over the demands of human life. It reaps practical benefits, not penalties. And striving for spiritual progress is not just a top priority—it’s a privilege!