A few weeks back I found myself contemplating whether I’m doing enough in life.
It all started when I heard what a few women were accomplishing that particular weekend—women who’s stage of life is similarly busy to mine. But because their weekend seemed far more productive, I succumbed to a few dramatic moments of self-questioning (you know, with thoughts like, “What am I even doing with my life?”).
Of course, soon enough I realized how silly it is to compare my randomly slower Saturday to another person’s busy weekend.
But, it is a question worth asking: What are we doing with our lives? Are we doing what we should from God’s perspective? Is there anything we should add to our lives (or take away from our lives) to live better from eternity’s standpoint?
And often, this line of questioning automatically leads to feeling like we need to add more. We should go do more things, we should sign up for more activities, we should get busier. And there is certainly a time to make additional commitments that will keep us moving the right direction. But as I reflected, I realized the right kind of doing “more” (or living better) doesn’t always mean adding “more”. In fact, sometimes we need to go deeper rather than extend wider.
In other words, at times we just need to do what we already know we should do, better.
What Should Be On Our To-Do List?
So on that dramatic self-reflecting Saturday I stripped away all the comparisons and just asked myself “What do I know God wants me to do, and am I doing it as well as I should?” And I came up with quite the list.
It was a list that reminded me the best addition to our life is often more faithfulness. It’s the “more” the Apostle Paul encouraged the Thessalonians with in 1 Thessalonians 4:1-3:
Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification…
In other words, our main aim isn’t busyness, it’s holiness. Clearly, God’s expectations will keep us busy — but being busy and productive is not the point. Living to please God is the point. Which begs the question: What are those things that please God?
Well, there’s 10 I came up with. They are quite basic, and the list is not exhaustive; but the quality of our efforts in these areas is worth contemplating (especially for those prone to getting busier and busier).
So in no particular order, here are 10 things that should make up the bulk of our goals, our tasks, and our to-do lists:
#1 Be a good wife.
If you are married, this job alone can keep you busy. There’s plenty of work to be done in order to be helpful, loving, supportive, selfless, sacrificial and submissive. If you have any room to grow in those ways (and who doesn’t?!), then add this to your life (maybe even before adding something else).
#2 Love your kids.
In Titus 2, when Paul gives instructions for young women, loving one’s husband and children were among the first things on the list. What do you need to do to better love your kids?
Perhaps it’s putting your phone down to pay attention to them. It may be your patience and kindness. Maybe you need to restrict time for hobbies so you can be more present. It could be buckling down with discipline and training. Or maybe you just need to spend more time praying for them.
#3 Take care of your home.
The Titus 2 list also reminds us we have a domestic role. We are to be “working at home” as the ESV puts it. Many other things call our attention, but this divinely assigned task should never get pushed aside. Make sure you are taking care of your home to the glory of God (Col. 3:23)!
#4 Be a good family member.
While being a good wife and mom may take much of our time, those are not the only family relationships we should have on our radar.
According to passages like Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 6:2, Matthew 15:4, etc. we need to honor our parents (and through marriage we gain another set of parents to honor). 1 Timothy 5 also mentions the expectation that we would help a widowed mother or grandmother (perhaps implying a basic principle for caring for family in need), as well as the general expectation that we provide for relatives.
What it means to provide and honor and help vary greatly from family to family — but the point is: caring for family members needs to be a part of our lives.
#5 Spend time in God’s word.
If you love God, you will love the words of God — and that should make an impact on your schedule. Before you add something to your life, make sure you are carving out time to read God’s word, to study God’s word, and to memorize God’s word (Ps. 119:9-16).
#6 Love people well.
One of the worst parts of over-committing is leaving no room to love the people in your life. Loving others should be a top priority (Matt. 22:39-40), so if we keep finding ourselves too busy to slow down for the sake of people, then we are just too busy.
#7 Spend time praying.
No one needs to tell you that prayer is essential to the Christian life. But what a battle it is to spend time talking to God with the effort and fervency we know this practice deserves. How’s the quality of your prayer life? Do you pray for the people you say you will pray for?
#8 Be involved in your church.
God expects every person to be like an essential body part of the church (1 Cor. 12). In fact you are so essential that the church doesn’t function properly without you. Are you investing in your church like you are a purposefully placed body part?
#9 Use your abilities for Kingdom purposes.
God gave you every ability you have, and there are potentially many wonderful purposes for those gifts. But without a doubt, God desires for you to use your abilities to point people to him.
So the question is, are you squandering any opportunities to use the resources God has given you? Before you find yourself signing up for this or signing up for that, think through what God has given YOU, and consider whether you are using it as he would want you to.
#10 Be an ambassador.
As a Christian, you represent Jesus (2 Cor. 5:20). One of your key missions in life is to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to a lost world. Are you doing all you should to reach your neighbors, your extended family, your acquaintances, and whoever God puts in your path?
Pause Before You Add
All that to say, as opportunities for more busyness abound — don’t just keep piling on more stuff. Don’t say “yes” to every plea for help. Don’t add every activity under the sun. Pause before you add more, and make sure the additions will help (or at least not hinder) your ability to be faithful to the tasks and roles God has given you. And yet, if one of these 10 things is not already on your to-do list — I’m quite certain it is something you need to add.
Ultimately, if we are going to use our life well, our to-do list will not spring from cultural standards, lateral comparisons, or people’s expectations. It will come from God’s word and biblical priorities. And when it does, we will have a purposefully filled schedule with all the right kinds of stuff (whether that means we add more or don’t).