Carol and Bill Gilpin
When was the last time you really took an objective look at how you have prioritized your life. Over the years of ministering to couples and even single adults at our church, it seems that most of their problem stem from having their priorities mixed up. Here is how we see this works best as a believer.
1. God is first
He MUST be our first priority. Our relationship with the one true God, our creator, our redeemer, must come first. Spend time with God every day. I’m not talking about locking yourself away from the world for hours of prayer and Bible study (although there are times for that) but simply talk to him throughout your day. Ask him for wisdom. Thank him for the blessing you have and those things you believe for. Ask him to forgive you for failures and sin. Read your bible. I personally don’t talk to him like he’s my friend as some would have us believe, but as my father for whom I have the highest respect.
2. Family comes next
Really we might better call this our ‘Household’ because we like to include marriage, kids, extended family, and finances into this category. It’s our personal belief that the marriage relationship (if you are married) is the second most important relationship in which we will participate here on Earth. Mutual submission (see our last article) is the key to a successful and happy marriage. Each partner taking upon themselves to be the servant of the other. It works! When your kids see this model in your marriage they will feel secure and loved.
Love your kids, spend time with them each day, model for them how to live life by being a servant, being quick to help, quick to ask forgiveness and quick to forgive. Teach them to love God and love others. Teach them to respect their elders and to have a healthy view of church. Have fun! Structure is good but too much structure without fun is going to produce resentment.
Time with extended family is good. Spend time together and honor that time by being engaged, but don’t let time with extended family override time with God and your own family.
I included finances here because I believe we are called to be good managers of our money. We tithe to God of our ‘first fruits’ and with what is left He expects us to be good managers. For years Carol and I were making good salaries and faithfully tithing, but it felt as if we had holes in our pocketbook because we would barely make it (and sometimes we wouldn’t make it) to the next paycheck. We were not being good managers of what God had left to us until we met a man who helped us get disciplined in our spending and saving. Now we are living in the ‘Land of Plenty’ and I’m here to tell you, it’s better!
All of these things add up to being prosperous. Prosperous in relationships and prosperous in finances so that we can be GENEROUS on every occasion! We spent so many years living in fear and doubt, concerned for our own relationships and our own finances that we were too ‘poor’ to be generous. Let me tell you, that’s frustrating! Once we got our relationships (God/Marriage/Kids/Family) and finances in order, we are now able to be generous with others with not only finances, but with our time and abilities. Building relationships with others where we can be open and transparent with them, able to help them in their times of need.
This can be a tricky subject because so many people get this out of order. This is especially hard for those who are in the full time ministry or who have a higher level of responsibility within the church. If you are single, this might have a higher priority for you and that’s ok for the season you’re in.
Carol and have been a part of World Revival Church for nearly 24 years and were full participants in the revival that changed our church and our personal lives. Our church was hosting the nations who were coming to see what God was doing in this small town church. We held 6 services a week for over a year and still to this day have 4 services/events each week. Some ask ‘How can you go to church 4 times a week?’ my answer to that is ‘I can afford it!’
Even if you attend a church where there are one or two services a week, it will be a constant drain on your life if the order of priority is not right.
4. Work, hobbies and interests
Work, hobbies and interests fall somewhere below. I’m not really going to address those other than to say that, as far as your job goes, God expects us to stand out from the crowd. Our example at work speaks to others of our Christian life. Show up on time, be diligent at your work, be thankful for your job.
Let me sum this up: Each item we’ve shared in this article feeds down to the next. My relationship with God reinforces and guides my relationship with my spouse. My relationship with God and my spouse reinforces and guides my relationship with our kids and finances. With that now in order, I can afford to come together with my church body and others and I’m able to be generous with them, able to be uplifting and encouraging, supporting them in their roles. When we come together as a body of believers we are to be edifying one another, building one another up in Christ, but you can’t be effective in this until youget your order of priority right.We’re not suggesting you wait to get everything right before you go to church. On the contrary…you need to be connected and committed to a body of believers. We’re saying if you want to live the life God intended for you… able to be generous on every occasion…this is what has worked for us and we believe will work for you.
About the authors: Bill and Carol Gilpin are members of World Revival Church and have been since 1990. They have served in many areas of ministry, but for the past 10 years have led a class on marriage and family, which started with 24 people and has now grown to over 120. Bill is the Business Manager at World Revival and Carol is an educator in the public school system, with a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and Specialist Degree in Education Administration.