Keeping Sane in an Insane World:The “Priority Principle” (Matthew 6:33)

I try to be as transparent as possible when asked how I personally “keep sane” while while ministering to so many hurting people, administering a private practice, and being a husband and father. Basically, I follow the same counsel I offer my clients: Prioritize! Here’s what I mean:

  • God’s first. I pursue more pleasure and enjoyment from “abiding in Christ” (John 15:4) than in anything or anyone else.  Jesus said “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). So in my life, Jesus is my “one thing” (Psalm 27:4); abiding in His presence and His Word, moment-by-moment, is my deepest resolve. A minute not spent in God’s presence is a minute wasted. Sure, I’m human and I stumble and wander off at times. But God’s faithful, and always draws me back to Himself, to draw life from the Vine.
  • Spouse second. Next, I seek more enjoyment from my relationship with my wife Joni than with anyone or anything else. That means that Joni is more important than my work, my friends, and even our kids, who benefit from the overflow of our love for each other. If things are not 100% right between Joni and me, all else stops until we are at peace again. We take time for each other daily and still try to date weekly. Every several months, we try to get a weekend for just the two of us. We even take time apart from each other every now and then, to stay in balance. Is our marriage perfect? Not by a long shot. But Jesus is “the third strand” (Eccl 4:12) who holds us together.
  • Children third. My two daughters come next, of course. I try to have meaningful time with each of them, often through frequent Skype calls.
  • Friends, work, and church family. After my daughters come my closest friends and family, followed by all the people to whom I minister through counseling and teaching. I have several good Christian brothers with whom I fellowship regularly. As “iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27:17) we support each other and pray for God’s help in making us the best spiritual leaders, husbands, fathers, and counselors we can be. I also worship at Forest Hills Evangelical Free Church in Loves Park, IL, where I have the privilege of leading worship and playing guitar.

In sum, the Priority Principle (Matthew 6:33) keeps me enjoying just about everybody. I also try to de-stress daily by spending time with God in the Word every morning, taking an afternoon break at Starbuck’s, and playing, writing, and arranging music on guitar. In addition to hymns and worship music, I’m a big fan of classical music, Americana-folk music, and classic rock.