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Friday, January 15, 2010

Relationships and Priorities: Master, Mate, Mission

When Christ reminded the expert in the law with “the greatest commandment in the Law,” He was spelling out for us all how to live our lives.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22: 37

This passage lays out the priorities of life, or what I call Master, Mate, Mission. And a new year presents a perfect opportunity to readjust yours, if needed. Every day presents challenges in keeping the proper priorities in every area of our lives. For each of us, regardless of calling or position, the very first priority in our lives needs to be Christ, our Master. That means spending time with God as the priority above all others, keeping Him above all else, indeed, “loving Him will all your heart, all your soul, all your mind.”

The second part of the greatest commandment deals with the rest of our priorities: “loving your neighbor as yourself.” These could be characterized as the other relationships in your life. Included in these are those in your family (spouse, children, parents, siblings) and your mission (calling, vocation, church, etc.), or Mate and Mission.

The key to all of life is having your priorities in order. For lawyers who work from 6am to 11pm to meet billable hours, or to achieve the best outcome in the case, and for law students inspired by their calling, this warning should be taken all the more seriously.

If you are married, your order must be Master, Mate, Mission. This means God is first in your life, your spouse and children are next as your first neighbors, and your calling is your third – in that order. Too many lawyers and law students fall prey to being consumed by their mission, to the detriment of their master and mate. A married individual must keep this order of priorities, in obedience to Christ as the greatest commandments, and to thrive in life (I Corinthians 7:33-35). When children come along, the order is even more important – Master, then Mate, then children, then mission. As a woman and a lawyer I know how easy it is to put your children above your husband, a sure mistake in priorities, or to put work before family. Women are good at multitasking, but we must keep these priorities. It is equally if not more important that men guard these priorities, keeping certain that family, wife then children, come before work. Men and women know how easy it is to let mission crowd out master and mate. Guarding these priorities is the key to thriving.

A single person, by contrast, is not (yet) weighed down with family concerns (again I Corinthians 7:32-35), and can keep a different order: Master, Mission, Mate. This means that as you keep your Master first, you are free to make your neighbor the mission. And, as you are carrying out your mission, if God desires He will bring along your mate in the process of your mission, in His perfect time, as part of His perfect plan for you. This means that as a single you are free to thrive in your mission, not needing to “look for” that mate, knowing God will choose a mate for you, if it is His will, in His perfect timing, as you are carrying out that second commandment, “loving your neighbor as yourself.” This is the secret to thriving in obedience to Christ.

Relationships and priorities: Master, Mate, Mission or Master, Mission, Mate. The key to all of life is having your priorities in order, the Greatest Commandments.

~ Professor Lynne Marie Kohm, Regent University School of Law

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