Top Priority

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Which is more important, church or family? If faced with the need to choose, which would it be for you? I’ve come up with a list to demonstrate how I determine who takes precedence whenever there is a contest between two priorities.   

This is how my priorities rank, and is what I believe to be best:

  1. God. We need to have a time of prayer and Bible reading each day, however random, to sustain us. Our relationship with God comes first.
  2. Husband. We need to truly be a helper to our husband. Our commitment is first to him and his needs, before anybody else.
  3. Children. Our own offspring, the fruit of our one-flesh marriage relationship, are our next level of priority. Our children are our “arrows,” our “olive shoots,” our most precious life’s work. They are too great a treasure and too great a responsibility for us to allow them to be too much in the care of others. They need us to be there for them. Other people’s kids don’t need us as much as our own kids do.
  4. Family. Our own flesh-and-blood family, especially our own father and mother, are our next priority.  I think the ones who gave us life deserve our loyalty and attention more than the church does. And our flesh-and-blood siblings would come in a close second. (For some people, this would be their adoptive father and mother if they weren’t raised by their biological parents.)
  5. Church family. Now this is where our brothers and sisters in Christ fall into the list. Right after our biological family.
  6. Close friends.
  7. Neighbors and other acquaintances.
  8. Strangers.

What do you think? Is my list similar to yours? What would you change; what would you keep the same? Why?

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8 thoughts on “Top Priority

  1. Amen to all points.

    And I can say that this is a HUGE benefit of attending a family-integrated church. There are no age-segregated groups or classes, so that horrid pressure of constant “nudging,” as you say, to volunteer to teach, babysit, staff, etc., is not there because there are no programs to staff. Yay!! Additionally, since most families have large families, they all understand the intense pressure that parents with families are under, and there’s none of that pressure to “do, do, do” that is present in most churches. (We came from a mainstream conservative Protestant church, so I’ve experienced ALL of that pressure. And it stinks.)

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    • Thanks, Diana!
      Yes, I’ve considered going to a family integrated church (though I don’t know of many here), but I don’t think we’re ready to change churches right now. It’s something I’m praying about.

      I love all your points! And I think you’re totally right!
      Jessica

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  2. Thank you, Jessica, for dealing with such an important topic! Yes, I do agree with you that it is vitally important for mothers to take care of her children (more than depending on others on this duty.)
    I saw the priority list, yeah, and I asked myself “what’s your list, then?”. Well, I think ever since I believed in Jesus Christ, next to God, my Christian brothers and sisters have always been my real and closer family in a practical sense, though I do have a warm and loving relationship with my flesh family.

    I think our priority lists are different maybe because you are from a Christian family, whereas I am not. If you were born in a pagan family in Asia such as Japan, where more than 99% of the people don’t acknowledge Jesus as their Savior and the Lord, it is more likely that their church bonds and brotherhood/sisterhoods are much stronger and tighter, simply because otherwise we CANNOT continue our spiritual life in such a hard environment! Many Japanese wives (Christian) who go to church alone, confessed to me that in the midst of their loneliness, their family-like church fellowship has given them comfort and strength which no earthly bonds can give.

    The same things can be said to many many converts from Muslim background. Many of them have already lost their warm relationship with their flesh family because of their new faith in Jesus Christ. For the past 10 or more years in our missionary life with these people, we’ve tried to offer our best time for our lonely refugee brothers and sisters.

    For example, two days ago, a brother called my husband because he has a martial problem with her wife and his wife had left him. He poured his heart with tears until 3 o’clock in the morning. I was actually very sleepy but I was glad that my husband could be his comfort during his crisis time, because for us, this brother in Christ is our top priority.

    Jessica, sorry for this long comment. If you have any response, please feel free to share with me! with love, Kinuko

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    • Dear Kinuko,
      Sorry I didn’t get back to you right away on this. I wanted to think about it first. Yesterday, my husband and I discussed your comment, and attempted to see this issue from different angles. Here’s what makes the most sense to me:

      In order to discern our priorities when it comes to serving/helping and being available to the different people in our lives, we should look at several points: responsibility, urgency, dependency, and authority.

      Responsibility. The Bible defines what our responsibilities are. So, a woman’s responsibility is first to be a helpmeet to her husband, and the husband’s responsibility is first to be a provider for his own family. So, a man must LEAVE his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the twain (two) shall be one. Mothers and fathers are then “demoted” to a secondary category, then, after marriage takes place.

      Additionally, a couple’s primary responsibility is to care for and provide for their own children (if they have them). Other people’s children are NOT their primary responsibility.

      Urgency. There may be circumstances that are so urgent, one must disregard certain levels of priority that would normally be observed. So, if a child desperately needs a home, for example, a couple might choose to foster or adopt, even if they already have their own biological children. Or, if a stranger is in urgent need of medical care, who wouldn’t stop everything she’s doing to help out, even if it meant dinner would have to be sandwiches that day?

      Dependency. This is closely related to the previous point. Sometimes, we have to rearrange our priorities in order to attend to someone who normally wouldn’t be dependent on our care, but now is. An example of this would be a parent who is old and ill, who needs attention. What daughter would deny auxiliary to her own parents, if they were sick and needed it? So, her husband must learn to wait while she bathes and feeds her elderly parents, and so must her children.

      Authority. A woman’s husband is her authority, so if he says that he doesn’t want her to be involved in something, even if it’s for the benefit of the church or society, and wouldn’t put that much of a strain (or any at all) on the home, she needs to put him first. Or, he might not request this of her; he might simply prefer it. For example, my husband wouldn’t deny me the pleasure of going to a ladies’ Bible study in the evening, but I still choose not to go, since I know that he really wants me to be there for him. So, his preference wins.

      I think that the points you brought up are valid! I’m not saying we shouldn’t help other people who need it, or we shouldn’t draw close to others who aren’t part of our biological family; what I am saying, is that sometimes we get tugged on from two (or more) different directions. If we are facing several people who “need” us, who gets priority? My aim is to get some clarity on this issue that would help us make that choice.

      Thanks so much for your long comment! I love long comments, and (obviously) I make them myself all the time! ha, ha
      Jessica

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      • Dearest Jessica,
        Thank you so much for your sincere reply. Please send my thanks to your beloved husband, too. Actually, I regretted what I had written on this comment section…and I wanted to say sorry for that.

        That’s because everything what you have written on this post was solid and highly recommendable for married sisters. Also, I must openly admit that my spiritual upbringing and other circumstances are not so “normal” and so, I think I always must keep this fact in mind so as not to see or make general opinions about some Bible-related issues out of this “particular” situation. I hope you could get what I am trying to say.

        There are always some exceptional cases in every issue (like I had written in my previous comment) but I do encourage you, my dear Jessica, to keep writing the things which you have been convicted by the Word of God. Please do not shrink from some sad/exceptional cases suggesting you that you must not write clearly the things which the Lord convicts you.

        For example, I cannot have a baby (regardless of my wish) and I had already surrendered my lament and sorrow into His mighty Hands. This is another example of the “exceptional” case. However, I don’t wish at all that these cases would make you feel hesitant to write that “to have babies is His blessing.” Because it is so TRUE! And I love His truth more than my personal loss or sorrow.

        I am looking forward to reading/watching your messages, my dear Jessica!

        Your friend and sister in Christ,
        Kinuko

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      • You are a rare gem, Kinuko! For you to say that you “love His truth more than my personal loss or sorrow” is something that not many are strong enough to say! I admire you, and I am so, so thankful for you!

        Yes, I will try my best to keep on writing clearly what the Lord convicts me about. I do want to see the full picture, though, and hearing what others have to add helps me to be well-rounded. So, your comment helped me to see that there can be exceptions to the normal order of priorities. However, they are exceptions, as you point out, and not what we should base our normal, everyday habits upon.

        Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this, Kinuko! I appreciate it so much!
        Jessica

        Liked by 1 person

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