First Things

CandlesTwo-Image1My friends in the recovery community like to say it often: “First things first.”

It’s an old AA slogan, one that recovering alcoholics and addicts fall back on when they are feeling the need to re-group and re-think what they need to do, or not do, as the case may be.  To hear some of the stories, you’d think that these simple words are some kind of lifesaver.

The truth is, they are.

In fact, if more people would commit to following the advice found here – to sit down and think, pray, listen, and discern what that means for them – what “first things first” means for them – much pain would be averted.

I’m reminded that Jesus was asked more than once about “first things first” from the perspective of faith.

“Rabbi,” a young man asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Rabbi,” one schooled in the law inquired, “which Commandment is the greatest?”

When Jesus answered, he was quite clear on what they should do to set things “first things first” in their own life.

Love God.  Love other people, at least as much as you love yourself.

Easy to say – difficult to do – but come anywhere close to actually doing it – and your life will be changed forever.

We spend so much time, so much energy, setting and re-setting priorities.  Too often, we set those priorities according to something far less than a deep desire to be in loving relationship with God and with those whom God loves, which, incidentally, is everyone.

“First things first.”  It’s a lot more than a slogan for a meeting of recovering addicts and alcoholics.  It’s a call to relationship, to love, to purpose, to meaning, to service, to love God and love others.

It’s a New Year.  It’s a good time to put first things first.  Where and how does God, where do others, fit into that equation for you?









By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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