Recently I started a new youth ministry position, in a new state. Starting this new ministry meant my family had to pack up and move a few states to the east. With a family of 5, all of the kids being 6 and younger, this means we have a lot of big items. As we packed the house, we tried to get rid of as much stuff as we could and pack as tightly as was humanly possible. But we were still worried about being able to actually get everything from one house to the next. So, what did we do? We rented the biggest moving truck we could and hoped we could fit it all in.
It was at this point, I was being taught a lesson that I would not realize for another week. While we were packing up the truck, there was one phrase my dad (who was “head packer”) repeated at least a dozen times: big stuff first. Every time we would ask him what he wanted us to bring him next, he would say, “I need the big stuff first.” Basically it was our job to bring out all of the big items first. And then when these big items were packed, we would bring out the next level of big items.
Every once in a while we would need to fill a hole or two, but basically the idea was to pack the big items first—this ensured we were able to move them with us and helped us gauge how much room we had left for everything else. This approach helped us get more in the truck than I thought we would, only a handful of items got left behind or given a new home. A few days after we were all unloaded, I was talking with one of the guys who helped us unload and he mentioned how packed the truck was. He said that when he first saw us pull up he thought to himself, “This shouldn’t be too bad.” Then we opened the door and he realized that we had packed three truck-fulls into this one truck. He did not see any room that was left unused. And as someone who both loaded and unloaded the truck, I must say that I agree with him.
And while I have to say it was not a perfect packing job (a few broken and scraped items), it was a really good packing job, plus a great reminder for me. In life, we all have stuff that takes up our time. Every minute of every hour of every day of every week of every month of every year of our life we get to choose how we spend our time. We can spend our time on hobbies, family, work, sleeping, or a number of other activities. The problem is that many of us do not recognize our limited amount of time, until it is too late.
If we picture our life like a moving truck, we see that there is only so much room to fit everything in (and some things just will not fit). What my moving experience reminded me of is that you have to fit the big stuff in first. In my youth ministry, there are some things that need to get first attention. My youth ministry big stuff includes: praying, planning, time with students and their families, developing leaders, time with my family, and my own personal growth. These are the things I need to make sure are put into my life before all of the other stuff crowds it out or minimizes it.
Once these “big items” are placed in your life, you have the room to place other things in, things like sports, watching movies, updating social networks, reading the latest books, or other hobbies. When you pack the big stuff in your life first, you will find that you have room for many of the non-essentials. But no matter what you think you can stuff into your life, you will be wise to leave some breathing room. To allow for some rest, you will probably need to let go of some things (just like we had to leave some stuff behind in our move).
What are the “big items” you need to put into your life? Are there small, non-essentials, taking up space that you need to get rid of? Take some time today to look at how you are packing your life.