If you are like most of the population of the United States, your life is not a bed of roses. It may not be bad, but is certainly isn’t as free and wonderful as I’m sure you would like it to be. Here are a couple of things to think about, millionaires comprise less than 4% of the total number of people in this country, billionaires less than .0002%. What do you think your chances are of becoming one?
The average monthly income of someone living solely on Social Security or the current minimum wage in most states is just over $1400 a month. That is less than $17,000 a year. The poverty level is usually considered around $20,000 per year. Poverty is not the funny sitcoms that you see on television or in the movies. It’s people trying to find enough money to pay for rent, food, heat and medicine. Usually, it’s someone having to make a choice of one of those things over the others. I am rapidly approaching retirement age, so imagine how depressing that is for me to think about.
Let’s talk about priorities. What are your priorities? I know that mine tend to get pretty messed up and that there are always people trying to change them for me. From my perspective, here is what I think they should be, in order:
Now, people are going to argue that ‘self’ should be either lower or higher on the list. I put it where I did based on my own experience and temperament. I can tell you, if you put ‘work’ where I do, your boss isn’t going to be happy. No matter what they say, your bosses do not care about your work/life balance, they care about their bottom line. If they can make you more productive in some way, any way, they will do it. But fully understand, it isn’t for you, it’s for them. If that sounds cynical, then I want you to think about your bosses and your company’s goals, are they there to make you happy or are they there to generate a profit? I’m not telling you that your boss is a bad person, I don’t know your boss, I’m trying to convey that you need to take a realistic view of your workplace.
Like many people, I used to identify strongly with ‘my job.’ In other words, my job was an integral part of who I was. That was the problem, I thought of it as MY job. It wasn’t and isn’t. The job belongs to the company, I’m only someone doing that job. Once I was able to fully accept that, fear of losing a job went away. I’m not saying that I like the concept of being unemployed, but I am not emotionally attached to a job like I once was.
I put God first in my list. To be perfectly honest, He wasn’t always there and sometimes I still slip up. The key is that I know He belongs there and I try to keep Him there. There are times when He and I have an uneasy relationship, but I always know that He’s the one that is right, and I just have to figure out where I’m not getting it.
Family is right there near the top. Most of my family probably wouldn’t or doesn’t believe that. The truth is, if it weren’t for my love and dedication to my family, I wouldn’t bother with the last thing on the list. My body is physically ruined and I live in constant pain. They don’t see it because I don’t let anyone see it. Most of the time I am able to push the pain outside of myself and just continue on. There are times, usually after a few hours of sleep, and I only get a few hours of sleep a night, when the pain is in control and I have to make an effort of will to move it again. It’s okay, it is all a part of being a husband, a dad, and a grandfather.
What do I mean by ‘Self?’ Our lives are busy, all of us find ways to keep ourselves occupied most of the time. What we call ‘leisure time’ is usually just another way of saying, time we fill up with things that we like to do. That’s okay as long at they are really things that you want to be doing. For me, writing is one activity that I like, but it isn’t really leisure. I take a few minutes each day and just try to sit and look around me. If I’m lucky, it’s while I’m home and can look out at the serene view outside my window. If I am someplace else, I try to find something that helps me to unfocus. That may sound strange, but we spend so much of our lives trying to focus that we forget it is sometimes a good idea to let ourselves relax.
While I have Pastors that might disagree with the placement, Church is right up there. I am a firm believer in tithing and giving. No matter what some might say, the Church wasn’t founded by men, it was put together at the direction of God and Jesus Christ. God directed and gave the blueprints for the building of the Temple and Christ told Peter that he was the rock on which His Church would be founded. The very least I can do, is be a part of the body that is the Church.
So, that’s my list. I don’t know what yours is or what order you would put things in, but that is up to you. I do know that there are more of us ‘average’ people than there are wealthy or powerful ones. That being the case, I don’t think we can wait or depend on the tiny fraction to help us. I think that we need to help each other. We are moving into the season where giving is common, but that isn’t what I’m talking about. Most of us know or know of someone or some organization that needs our help, not just our money. Do you know anyone that just needs a listening ear? How about someone that needs you to be a shield for them against the onslaught of someone being unkind? We need to come to the realization that it is ourselves that others need.
I pray that you are having a good week.