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True Priorities - published in Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul II

When I married my husband John, my life was so full, I feared I would have far more to do than time to do it. So I created a personal mission statement to define my true priorities and help me determine how to spend my time. I consulted the Bible for guidelines and selected Matthew 6:33, which spoke to me: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

So I wrote: First, the most important thing to me is my relationship with Christ. My success is first measured by how I serve the Lord with my time, talents and treasure. I make decisions based on what Jesus would want me to do, not what I feel like doing. Second, I am a faithful, encouraging, supportive wife and I will be a loving, caring, and nurturing mother, sometimes even sacrificing my own needs to ensure theirs. I work to live, not live to work. Lastly, I take care of myself physically, knowing then I will have the energy and ability to work for the Lord and my family.

I read what I’d written and put it away, feeling good about myself. However, God soon showed me that creating a mission statement and actually living it are two different things.

I was twenty-six-years old when my first child, Meagan, was born. I traveled extensively with a public seminar company, gaining success and recognition in the marketplace. I was determined to be a wife and mother and career woman at the same time. Nothing would slow me down. I could change a diaper with one hand and type a proposal with another: a good proposal. I wanted to do it all—and succeed. So I arranged for my girlfriend, Angie, to care for Meagan when I was out of town speaking, and when Meagan was three months old, I started traveling again.

I couldn’t see that my life was insane or that I wasn’t following my personal mission statement. I wasn’t working to live; I was living to work, striving to meet the world’s definition of success, completely forgetting the one I’d written.

But then I got a wake-up call...literally.

One late afternoon on the road, when Meagan was fourteen months old, I phoned Angie to check in, as usual. I stood at the pay phone in a hotel lobby. “Angie, hi. How’s Meagan?”

“Oh Laura, we had a wonderful morning. Meagan walked today!”

Thud.I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. Meagan walked today. And where was I?

My friend went on enthusiastically, “Yes, I just said, ‘Come to Angie’ and she walked across the living room into my arms!”

Sobbing in the lobby of a Holiday Inn in Mansfield, Ohio, 400 miles from home, her words echoed in my ears.

“What am I doing?” I shouted to myself. How could I have missed one of the most important moments in my daughter’s life? And for what? I had no one to blame but myself. I had put my career, my fame, and my success ahead of my child. I had invested my time into things that weren’t even part of the priorities outlined in my mission statement. I was moving so quickly in my career that I hadn’t stopped to weigh the costs.

I thought of the scripture that clearly states there is no success if the family is lost.

I knew I needed to align my actions with my purpose and make some changes. I vowed then to stop worrying about the quantity of work I was producing and focus instead on the quality of time I spent with Meagan. I was still committed to success—but a different kind of success.

I started saying “no” to activities that didn’t support my purpose, my priorities, and my mission statement. I started saying “no” to out-of-state speaking engagements and worked on building a local training business in Denver. I figured even Jesus said “no” sometimes when seemingly “good” requests for his time did not fit the overall plan for His ministry. In my Bible I found, “Now when it was day, He departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowd sought Him and came to Him, and tried to keep Him from leaving them; but He said to them, ‘I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent’” (Luke 4:42, 43).

God helped me learn to turn away from the worldly values of fame, greed, and power and discover the true meaning of success.

Six years later, I knelt in our family room. “Come to Mommy,” I cooed, and our baby Johnny walked for the first time, across the room into my arms.

Make it a productive day!™

© 2006 Laura Stack. Laura is the president of The Productivity Pro®, Inc. and the bestselling author of Leave the Office Earlier and Find More Time. She presents keynotes and seminars on time management, information overload, and personal productivity. Contact her at 303-471-7401 or www.TheProductivityPro.com.

 
 Laura Stack
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