Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Proper Priorities of a Man

In response to my post on unbalanced priorities being relationship killers, a commenter asked:

In a marriage, though, ought not your relationship be your highest priority? And once you have children, shouldn't the children be the highest priority?
While a seemingly simple question, I actually think that her question is quite profound. What should a person's priorities be? Is there a difference between the ideal priorities for a man and for a woman? These questions have been percolating in my head for the past week, and I've even found it helpful to think through what I've read about priorities from other authors. In particular, I think that John Eldredge, David Deida, and Steve Pavlina have a fairly good grasp on how a man should organize his priorities. While short-term priorities are quite malleable and perhaps change every hour, a person's long-term priorities should be stable and fixed. Every person who lives life with intentionality and direction must be clear on their priorities and must operate on the basis of them.

For a man, his list of priorities, where applicable, should be:

1. Love God
Given that we were created by God to bring Him glory, our chief duty in life, as human beings, is to love God whole-heartedly, to enjoy Him completely and to bring glory to Him with our words and actions. Jesus Christ succinctly expressed such a priority when he was asked what the greatest commandment is. "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." A man who has his priorities straight will live his life in accordance with God's will and align himself with the divine. He willingly submits to God's authority in every area of his life and sets all his priorities based on God's.

2. Take Care of Yourself
In order for a man to be successful in any endeavor he untertakes, he must have adequate resources. Proper self-care is a non-negotiable prerequisite for productivity, personal and spiritual growth, relational success, and financial freedom. Even in order to love others, a man must have time, energy and resources that he can utilize. A man must take adequately care of himself physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. When he allows any of these areas to stagnate, his energy is diminished and his potential impact is greatly limited.

3. Pursue Your Mission
While no two men have quite the same mission, and while a man's mission may change at various points in his life, all men are naturally missional. Every man has a mission that compels him to act and to make a unique contribution to the world. To the degree that a man knows his mission, he is able to pursue it. To the degree that a man is willing to passionately invest himself in fulfilling his mission, he is able to make a lasting impact on the world and on other peoples' lives. A man must know his mission and wholeheartedly pursue it.

4. Love Your Woman
Fewer people can have as profound an effect on a man's life as his wife does. When a man chooses a good woman to marry, continually guides and nurtures her, and offers her his unbridled love, she will gladly manage his household, encourage his pursuits and support him both practically and emotionally. When a man neglects his wife, she will turn into a nagging shrew who undermines his authority and hinders his mission. A man must love his woman and take good care of her, much in the same way that he must dedicate energy to proper self-care. When he offers her his love and strength, she will flourish and offer him every blessing she can.

5. Love Your Family
Unlike most other relationships a man has, familial bonds are much deeper and more enduring than other human relationships. A man's best friend may not always be his best friend, but his brother will always be his brother and his daughter will always be his daughter. It is always wise for a man to develop and maintain rich and rewarding relationships with everyone in his family, especially with his family of origin and his own family.

6. Love Your Friends
The life of a man is incomplete without quality friendships that have been consciously created. A man's friends are the people he enjoys spending time with, and who challenge him to live up to his potential. Walking alongside a few quality men is a rewarding experience and an indispensible aid in pursuing personal growth. A wise man always knows that he needs other men who inspire him and call him out when he loses his edge or begins heading down a dangerous path. Similarly, such a man will also seek to enrich the lives of his friends by offering his presence, by helping them in times of need, and by exhorting them to live to their fullest potential.

This list is a universal list of priorities that a man should adopt. For each of those priorities that is applicable to a man's life, they should always be prioritized in the order listed. If there is a priority that is not applicable to a man's life (for example, if he does not have a woman), then in the short-term it is quite reasonable to simply remove it from the list. In the long-term, however, it is vital for most men to live life in such a way that all of these elements are applicable. A man who does not know God and who is not adequately developed in his spirituality has not yet attained the ideal balance in his life. A well-developed and balanced man is always a spiritual man with an appreciation for sublime beauty and a mystical perception of God and his ways. A man who is lacking in friends and a solid social network may be living according to his priorities, but he is not living a balanced and complete life. A man who has not learned how to love and appreciate a woman, and who has not learned how to develop a rich relationship with her, is not living a full and balanced life.

Additionally, while I have presented these priorities as a list, in order of precendence, I want to be clear in saying that it is not a sort of checklist. It is not a chronological list, wherein you move down the list, checking off each thing, one by one. Instead, all of the priorities must co-exist together in a particular proportion. It is a recipe for a balanced life. If any necessary element is excluded, either intentionally or by neglect, a man's life is incomplete and imbalanced. Of the applicable elements, then, it is crucial that each priority have its place. If a man spends time with God, pursues his mission, loves his wife and his family, and yet neglects to rest his body sufficiently through sleep and his mind through relaxing, then his day is unbalanced. If a week goes by and a man has not dedicated energy to pursuing his mission, then even if he spent time on all of the other elements, his week is unbalanced. All of the applicable priorities must be a regular part of a man's life. Neglecting even one of them, for a period of time, may cause problems.

Let's return to the question that was originally asked. Should a married man's romantic relationship be the highest priority in his life? Not at all! For his sake and for the sake of his wife and family, he must place higher priority on his spiritual standing before God, on developing his own character and living with integrity, and in passionately pursuing his purpose. If he does put his romantic relationship ahead of any of those things, his unbalanced living will cause every area of his life to deteriorate, including his marriage. A woman needs to know that her man is someone to be respected, who will not compromise his values or his mission in life. Similarly, a man's children should never be the highest priority in his life either. Children need to know that their father is dedicated to following God, to pursuing his mission and to loving his wife. They need to know that his world does not revolve around them. A man is best able to love the people in his life by maintaining healthy priorities in every aspect of life.


  1. Wow, another excellent post.

    I agree about priorities by the way. I think women often make the mistake of putting children before their marriage. But marriage is a vocation that children are part of, it's not that we have children and tack marriage on as an attribute of that. And if a marriage fails from neglect, the children are ill-served.

    And God first, of course, even for a wife.

  2. My name is Anthony,
    I really love these priorities
    God is always First:Matt:6:33

  3. nice i respect what you mentioned.

  4. Great post, I have been working on a blog with a similar vein.
    I believe what's missing in modern times is simplicity, in days gone by a mans. Role was working his land or working industry, his family, his health and god (no particular order). Now men are confronted with so many choices that it's easy to be shell shocked into doing nothing whilst they try to figure out the opportunity cost, roi and pleasure in each choice.
    For me that has been the case, I have moved from job to job over the last ten years with the longest stretch being 18 months. I am working on simplifying my life to a manageable level by focusing on the simple roles of a man, family, health, work, god. Which is what your post reads.
    Family includes my wife, son, parents and grandparents and my wife's family. Health is my strength, fitness, nutrition and pleasure activities. Work is what I do to provide for my family and simply that, I may not enjoy it but I enjoy the feeling of looking after my family. God is what binds it all together.

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