Clutter is defined as “a collection of things lying about in an untidy mass.” While this is often true of the “stuff” in our house, it seems to be far more true of my life, my calendar, and my concerns. Is there any help? Is there a way to live life with some sense of order that leads to freedom and not simply a “grit-your-teeth” and try to “cram-it-all-in” mentality? Having thought, studied, prayed, and received counsel on this theme, I am beginning to think of the commitments and priorities in my life through the following lens.
Preeminent, Prominent, and Peripheral.
1. Preeminent: these are the things in my life that truly surpass all others. These will rarely if ever change for us. I have three preeminent relationships in my world. My friendship with Jesus, my relationship with my wife, and my relationship with my four kids… What this means in the real world is that all three of these relationships will regularly show up on my calendar and my checkbook. Jesus taught that our hearts follow where our money goes. I believe the same thing can be said about our time.
2. Prominent: these are the things that stand out and are very important in our lives. The temptation is to put far too many things in this area of our lives. Many of us believe we can spin more plates than we actually can. Greg McKeown in his book Essentialism warns that we try to take on too many things in our lives. Listen to this wonderful observation: “The word priority came into the English language in the 1400s. It was singular. It meant the very first or prior thing. It stayed singular for the next five hundred years.” Interesting right? We now have priori-ties. Twenty-first thinking is that we can just keep “adding” to the list of prominent things, and eventually the truly important things are crowded out. The prominent things for my life include the following: my self care plan (how am I growing and developing physically, emotionally, and relationally); the calling and mission God has given me and how that applies to what I am doing professionally (the calling remains the same, but the actual job may change from time to time); and extended family and close friends.
3. Peripheral: these are the things that are absolutely related to the core of who I am and the preeminent and prominent things in my life, but they are on the edge. It’s amazing how I often see these areas try to creep up the list. It’s amazing how I fall into the trap of giving too much time and resources to these areas. The peripheral things in my life are my finances, my possessions, and my connection with people outside of the preeminent and prominent spheres.
Creating a list like this has not only helped clear the clutter, it has produced freedom. A list like this has also forced me to evaluate where I invest my time, my thinking, my resources, and my energy. As you can see from the list above, I am seeking to allow this grid guide me from not falling into traps that will distract me (i.e. time staring at some social media app or staring at a TV screen) and keep me focused so that I can truly enjoy this one precious life I have been given.
This life truly is a gift. This life truly is very short. Seek to live it clutter free. In the end you will be thankful you did
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?