Why Every Man Should Make God His #1 Priority

man contemplating clouds make God priority #1
Photo: Joshua Earle

Why Every Man Should Make God His #1 Priority


The following is a shortened version of a talk I gave on Saturday at a men's breakfast. 

If you had have told me 12 years ago I would be giving a talk of this title I wouldn’t have believed you.

When I started out in university God was not my #1 priority. He wasn’t my #2 priority, he wasn’t even in my top 10. In fact, I lived for the most part as though God didn’t exist.

It wasn’t until a couple of buddies brought me to a religious event that I began to revaluate where God was in my life. In a powerful moment where I witnessed the faith of another person, expressed in how she praised God in her singing, that I realized something there was something important missing in my life.

That’s when God responded, beyond all my expectations.

What I realized in that moment was that God loved me beyond all my achievements, and that he wanted a relationship with me. I realized that and I wanted to experience reconciliation with the Father.

I went to confession and afterward, I promised that I would never forget what God had done that day. And his role in my life changed dramatically.

So I’ve experienced what it feels like to have God as my 350th priority and my #1 priority. And today I want to speak about why I think that every man should have God as his #1 priority.

It’s because of 3 major benefits.

1) It benefits the man himself

The first and biggest beneficiary of conversion is yourself.

When I put God in the centre of my life I noticed significant benefits. First, my outlook changed. As Pope Benedict said,

“Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but an encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” (Deus Caritas Est)

I definitely felt that “new horizon and decisive direction." My life was infused with meaning that previously I did not see.

Second, I found that my relationships were enhanced. One of the clearest examples was my relationship with my dad.

We had had some real challenges communicating as I was growing up, but when I came home from Martyr Shrine (where my conversion happened) I hugged my dad for the first time in a long while. And we hug all the time now.

I think that my encounter with God that day, experiencing his mercy, softened my heart a bit.

Thirdly, I started caring about others more. I didn’t know what to do first after it happened, but I knew I didn’t want to live a selfish lifestyle anymore. So I started volunteering in the city with people who had different challenges- poverty, homelessness, mental illness. Whatever options there were to try to help someone else, I was all for it.

Basically I found that I was becoming a better version of myself.

Now I am not saying that I was, or am, perfect. Ha! Far from it.

But these were significant changes in my life, and it started with putting God #1.

2) It benefits the people closest to you

I mentioned my enhanced relationships already. To give more recent example, I returned from a silent retreat a while ago. After spending 3 days on my relationship with God, my wife pointed out a few differences she noticed.

“You’re getting up earlier. You’re doing chores without being asked. You’re more patient with the kids.

“It’s like you’re a completely different husband!!"

Uhh... Thanks?

I also found that me putting God more front and centre in my life helped Lisa do the same. Like sometimes I would invite her to pray the Rosary with me while. And then sometimes she would invite me.

I think of the image of tandem mountain climbers. You’re hitched together. If one slips, you are the anchor for the other. Together you make progress.

If I want to help my wife get to heaven, we need to keep climbing together. And we need to each make God #1.

Keeping your heart set on God brings the best in you out for others. And don’t the people you love deserve your best?

3) It benefits the world

St. Catherine of Siena said, “Be who you are meant to be, and you will set the world ablaze."

This amazing quote sounds like an exaggeration, but there is truth here! God has entrusted to each of us an non-transferrable task in this life. We are meant to love him and others and to thus make the world better.

And to not accept this opportunity is to leave the world less than it could be.

The TV show Lost was really interesting in the way in which it showed how people and experiences had a deep impact on how the characters made decisions and understood themselves. It gave a real sense of our interconnectedness.

One day at the final judgement we will see the real impact we had in our lifetime. We will also see all the ripple effects that our life had on others and what that meant even in the future.

Basically the final judgement will be like an amazing season of Lost!

But really, this is the drama of our lives. We are each called to play the hero role in our story.

And in this drama, hero’s are the ones who choose to make God their #1.

You may be asking at this point, “What does that mean in my life? Where have I placed God among my priorities?”

Here is a little image that may help. This resource from Catholic Christian Outreach looks at the analogy of a romantic relationship and how that can parallel our relationship with God.

The top row of squares represents 1) no significant other; 2) a dating relationship; and 3) marriage.

You can see how the heart (representing the future spouse) is at one time out of the picture of the person’s priorities. Other things take precedence, be they grades, finances, friends, etc.

Then the romantic partner becomes part of his life. She is a factor now, but she is just one of his priorities.

Finally, in marriage, she has become a part of his life in a transformative way. She is now at the centre of his life, above all other priorities and even himself. Other values are considered in the context of his relationship with her.

In the bottom row, we can see God in this role. In the left square was me in the beginning of university. God was on the sidelines, not among my considerations in any meaningful sense.

Second, there is God as an aspect of one’s life, but one among many aspects. This person might go to church and even pray or read the Bible sometimes. But God is still just one among many considerations in this person’s life. Many people are in this category.

Finally there is the possibility of having God at the centre of your life, where everything else is kind of secondary. This is a significant placing of trust. This is the person with God as their #1 priority.

Now I ask, where do you see yourself currently? Which square best represents your relationship with God? Take a moment looking at the picture and think about it.

Second: where would you like to be?

Many people feel that they are in the middle square, but that they would like to be in the right, where God is the centre of their life.

If you find yourself in this boat, I have some good news! It doesn’t take much to get there.

When I had my conversion experience, I didn’t know much but I knew that I refused to let God take a lesser place in my life in the future. I promised him that.

In other words, I made a choice.

Do you want to make a similar choice now?

If you would like to do so, you can tell God that. Here is an example of a prayer you might say. This was given by Pope Benedict to the youth in WYD Madrid. Read over it, take a moment and slowly pray it from your heart. 

“Jesus, I know that you are the Son of God, who have given your life for me. I want to follow you faithfully and to be led by your word. You know me and you love me. I place my trust in you and I put my whole life into your hands. I want you to be the power that strengthens me and the joy which never leaves me”.

God is faithful. Whether you felt fireworks when you prayed that or not, God will honour your prayer. Remember it.

And let's ask the Holy Spirit to help us together to daily keep God as #1!

*Note: A great follow up to making a decision like this is to take advantage of the sacrament of reconciliation. #mercy

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