Isn’t it great how we each have built-in “Start-Fresh” moments throughout the year?

New Year’s Day is a magical moment when everything that happened the year before is (theoretically) wiped clean and you get to decide (for the 18th or 40th or 67th time) who you are going to be this year.

Then there’s your birthday. Every year you get to say “Sayonara!” to your 20’s or to your “early 50’s” or to your “mid-life crisis year” and start fresh with the extinguishing of a few candles.

Spring is one of those times for me. Every time the weather starts getting warmer, the sun starts to shine on places that seemed so dark and gloomy just yesterday and dry limbs sprout bright new growth, I feel an opportunity to start fresh right along with nature.

And this spring, I am determined to start fresh by refocusing my efforts to Make It Personal.

I do a lot for my little preschoolers. I make them a priority by showing up every single week. I make sure they know I am a safe and constant person in their lives. I am intentional about reaching out to parents and looking ahead to big miles stones. But time and time again, I find that when I make those things my main focus, I fall short of experiencing the joy of leading my few.

It’s easy to agree with this statement:

 “The most important thing you need to lead is not your few-it’s actually you.”

However, the hectic pace of life today often makes leading “you” the most difficult of all your SGL tasks. As you lead your little ones and partner with their parents, how well you are leading yourself will begin to show.

I have found, for me, the best way to “lead myself” is to set priorities; and then keep them. Don’t let the simplicity of that concept fool you though. Setting priorities is easy. Keeping them is what’s important.

So what are the priorities we should keep? Let’s narrow it down to three:

 Time with God:

When asked, “What’s the most important thing in your life?” it’s so easy to give that Sunday School answer: “My relationship with God”. But at the end of the day, where have I spent most of my time?

Between projects at the office, yard work at home, sports or school activities, meals, bills, extended family obligations, my time with God can often be relegated to a quick page of a devotional and a prayer as I head out the door to the next event. So to actually prioritize my relationship with God, I have to set time on the calendar and even give up a thing or two out of my day. (Let’s face it, my Hulu queue might need to wait.)

 Time with family:

There is an old saying that God created the family before He created the church, so family should be more important than the church. Our family truly is our first “ministry” and it’s okay to treat them like they are! Give your family the best of you, not just what’s left at the end of the day. That means leaving work in time to beat traffic, protecting weekends, and even getting to bed before midnight so you have the energy for family game night at the end of the week.

 Time for me:

What is it that you love to do? Do that. Get your calendar and schedule fun just like you do every other appointment. Because doing what recharges and refreshes you is as important as doing what is expected of you. Times of relaxing and recharging will keep burnout at bay.

Leading you may seem futile. Pointless. Like a waste of potentially productive time. Because really, will your preschoolers know if you watched the latest New Girl instead of writing in your prayer journal? Probably not. Will their parents notice? Possibly.

But we don’t strive to Make It Personal so we look good in others’ eyes. The truth is, the closer we are walking with our Heavenly Father, the better our reflection of Him will be to our few. And ultimately, you are the one who is missing out when you have to shortchange yourself to give to others.

So how do you protect your time for God, your family and yourself for the sake of you and your few?

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Barbara Graves

Barbara loves God, children's ministry, coffee, the Braves, and her granddaughter Eden-Grace. She's been in ministry for over 30 years and wishes she didn't have to sleep so she could write, teach, and read a little more.

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