And…a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “…keep the commandments.”…
The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, [inherit eternal life] go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me. When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Matthew 19: 16-17, 20-22 (ESV)
Many years ago the late Stephen Covey wrote a book entitled “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” In it he proposed that an effective life is one where you develop a character that is aligned with timeless and universally recognized habits/principles which Covey referred to as “true north.”
The 3rd habit Covey laid out was to “Put First Things First.” It emphasized the need for the discipline and commitment to distinguish between the “important” things of life, and those that are simply “urgent” or “not important.” And to set our priorities in life based upon what is important, the “true north,” or as Jesus would say on the eternal things and people, not the worldly or temporary things of life.
And then to follow those “important” priorities and let them guide the journey of our lives.
In the story of the Rich Young Ruler, a portion of which is in the scripture above—Christ’s message to the young man who was seeking eternal life, was that the eternal priorities of life should guide the decisions, direction and destination of our lives. Making Christ, His teachings and example the direction of our lives.
Easy enough, right? Not so much.
Because even with the best intentions, we let ourselves get consumed by the urgent, the trappings, and expectations of the worldly stuff—things in life that really aren’t all that important, when compared to the people in our lives, and the difference we can make in the lives of others around us.
Even broken down to basics in sports, or business, education or actually anything in life—what’s most important? Meeting expectations, trick plays, wins, public relations and image, money?
Or instead, maybe—execution together, respect for each other, doing the little things right, unity, embracing values aligned with God’s priorities in our lives, building relationships, making a difference in one life? Whether every player, employee, family member, teacher, student knows it or not—those last principles—pulling together, respect, the little things, unity, God’s priorities, relationships and changed lives—are things of God.
Covey reminded us in his book, and Jesus reminds us as He did that rich young man who came to Him—to focus on the important people and things, the eternal things in our lives—like family and friends who love and lift you, those people who need you and need a lift up, and need to be reminded that they are loved, and that God loves them too, all while doing our best and being our best, with the abilities, gifts, and talents God has provided us.
One time around, to gather a bunch of stuff, titles, and things the world says is important; or one time around to leave an imprint of our fingerprints—eternal fingerprints—on the hearts of those important people in our lives who need us.
It’s always our choice.
What, or Who, will be our true north?
In His Name–Scott