Condensed Excerpt from Out of Control - Finding Peace for the Physically Exhausted and Spiritually Strung Out by Ben Young & Dr. Samuel Adams. Used with permission.
An avid sports fan attending his first Super Bowl was seated high in the cheap seats when he noticed an empty seat down on the front-row, fifty-yard line. He made his way to the spot and hopefully asked the gentlemen next to the empty seat if it belonged to anyone.
"No,” the man said, “no one is sitting here. I bought this ticket for my wife, but she passed away. Would you like to join me?”
“Of course I would,” the sports fan replied, “but didn’t you have any other friends you wanted to invite?”
“Sure,” the elderly man replied. “I have lots of friends and I called them all— but they couldn’t come because they’re attending my wife’s funeral!”
We laugh at this guy because we can identify on some level with his misplaced priorities, extreme though they are. We all struggle with priorities from time to time.
THE POWER OF ONE
We’d like to introduce four powerful concepts we’ve found invaluable in establishing and keeping our priorities in order. The first is called “the power of one.” Søren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher and father of Christian existentialism, wrote that “purity of heart is to will one thing.” There is power, Kierkegaard argued, in focusing on one good thing (God) to the exclusion of everything else. When we have that kind of purity or simplicity of heart, we truly can experience peace and simplicity in a fast-paced world. What will your one thing be?
THE POWER OF DISOWNING
It is a basic spiritual law that the more you give away, the more freedom you will enjoy. There is power in disowning, in divesting ourselves of the things we’ve accumulated in life that weigh us down and keep us bound. Generally speaking, a distinct correlation exists between the amount of money or possessions we have and our ensuing level of anxiety and sense of burden. You’ve heard the saying “Less is more”? Listen, it really is. Simplicity equals freedom. Richard Foster has said that anything we own that we can’t afford to part with really owns us! I wonder what is owning you that you could disown for the sake of peace and simplicity.
THE POWER OF NO
Our American culture has us believing that we can (and should) have it all. But it has neglected to tell us the cost. “Yes, you can have the promotion and the corner office, even though it means you’ll see even less of your family than you do now.”
The next time you’re tempted to say yes, remember that you have another powerful word in your arsenal of language: no. Saying no is perhaps the single most empowering thing you can do to take control of your time and your life, and it is essential if you’re going to move your priorities to where they should be and keep them there.
THE POWER OF BOUNDARIES
Any commitment we make to a program, a person, a task, or an obligation costs us something. At the very least, saying yes to one thing may (and very likely will) mean saying no to something else. Every yes—whether it’s to join a committee, try out for a team, volunteer for a worthy project, or agree to a date with someone special—has costs associated with it. They may be costs we have considered and are quite willing to pay, or there may be hidden and unwanted costs. We must understand that not only is our time limited and precious, we have a limited reservoir of physical, emotional, social, and spiritual reserves too. It is our responsibility to consider the costs of each decision we make, or face the consequence of depletion if we do not.
We can still say yes to good things; we just need to say yes less often if we find ourselves being drained.
ONE FINAL WORD ON PRIORITIES
In light of your brief time here on earth, decide now to determine your true priorities and to live by them. That’s the heart and soul of it. Have the confidence to reject the trivial (and much of the nonessential). Learn to say no. Slow down and feel the true rhythm and cadence of life, called by the one who knows you by name. Listen to His voice, and the cry of your own heart. Then do whatever it takes to follow Him, fully, freely, and without hindrance, even when it means going against the tide of the world.
- POWER OF ONE: How can you use focus in your physical fitness?
- POWER OF DISOWNING: In what ways can you practice greater spiritual freedom?
- POWER OF NO: To what things in your life can you say NO so that you have more time to exercise?
- POWER OF BOUNDARIES: What things have overextended your emotional and spiritual reserves?