Commentary: The beginning of a new year is a good time to set priorities


I heard about the men who went deer hunting and separated into pairs for the day. That night one of the hunters returned, staggering into camp under a 12-point buck.

They asked, “Where’s Harry?”

“Harry had a heart attack or something. He’s a couple of miles back up the trail.”

“You mean you left Harry up there and you carried the deer down instead?”

“Well, I figured no one would steal Harry.”

Something’s out of whack with that guy’s priorities, wouldn’t you say?

\Setting priorities is important, and the beginning of a New Year is a good time to evaluate where we are putting our focus and investing our energies.

Stephen Covey said, “Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough on what is important.”

David Jaiko said, “The most important thing in life is knowing the most important things in life.”

Someone else said, “If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.”

What is your top priority? What do you most want to accomplish in 2024 that will improve your life and make you a stronger believer?

As Jesus moved towards the cross, He addressed the issue of priorities. A delegation came to Him, trying to put Him on the spot, and Jesus handled their questions well. A teacher of the law stood nearby and overheard one of these exchanges. Impressed with Jesus’ answer, he asked Jesus, “Which is the first commandment of all?”

Out of over 600 commandments that, through the years, evolved from the original ten, which command should receive my greatest attention and become my top pursuit, the man inquired.

In Mark 12:29-30, Jesus answered, “The first of all the commandments is ‘hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one,’ and ‘you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all of your strength.’ This is the first commandment.”

With that, Jesus stated our top pursuit in life should be to love God. He used the word agape, which refers to a decisive act of the will. Many things in life compete for our devotion and attention, so we must make the choice to love God supremely.

Lord is kurios, which refers to master. God wants to rule our lives as Lord and master because He knows what is best for us. That means we don’t truly love Him until we have completely surrendered to Him.

Your God captures the personal relationship God wants to have with us. It’s not enough that He is your Mother’s God or your neighbor’s God. At some point He must become your God.

Then Jesus shared HOW we should love God: with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength . . . with all of our being. Everything we are must be channeled into loving God.

How do we ultimately show God we love Him? We can tell Him, but it’s better to show Him. We demonstrate our love when we obey Him and live for Him.

Our love for God shapes how our other top priorities fall into place. One of those should be the time, nurture, and leadership we give our family.

Harry Chapin’s song, “The Cat’s in the Cradle,” tells about the father who is too busy for his son, and then as the son grows up and the father grows old, the son is too busy for his father. The father missed out on a lot when the son was at home because the father had other priorities.

I read about a college basketball coach and announcer who wasn’t named, but who was obsessed with the game and with winning. Later, he was struck with cancer, and came to realize what he had missed out on when he was pursuing those wins and building his career.

He had spent so little time with his wife and children, and confessed, “I figured I’d have 20 years in the bigtime, and who knows, maybe three or four national titles, then pack it in at 53 or 54 . . . I was going to make it up to them, all the time I’d been away . . .”

How do your actions demonstrate your priorities? How will you align your priorities with God’s priorities? Do you need to reorder your priorities in 2024?


David L. Chancey is pastor McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Georgia. Visit them online at for more information. Visit to see more of Chancey’s writings.