Ep 006 - Keeping Him First | Ashley Varner
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Ep 006 – Keeping Him First

There’s a lot of talk about priorities. In this episode, I’m sharing the reason why I don’t use the word priorities. Instead we’ll talk about having one priority and what that looks in your day to day life.

Info from the Show

  • Find out why you only need one priority
  • How to value what God values
  • The secret to getting everything done
  • How to be certain that the things you’re doing each day line up with God’s plan for your day

Links and Resources


Welcome to the Graceful Life Podcast. I am your host, Ashley Varner, and you are listening to episode six of the Graceful Life Podcast. I just want to welcome you here first off. If this is your first episode, I want to tell you thank you so much. I’m so glad that you joined me. It is my prayer that women who hear this podcast leave it feeling equipped and ready to serve and minister to the people around them. I want to help you to do that, so make sure that you listen to the very end of the episode. I have a free gift for you, and I will give you all the details then.

All of March, we have been talking about growing in Christ. Last week we talked about staying filled. We talked about ways that we can keep ourselves filled to overflowing so that we can give out of the overflow to other people so we’re never burned out, we’re never empty, because we’ve just been pouring into other people.

Another part of growing in Christ is by keeping him first. Really, we’re going to talk about this idea of priorities in our lives. Now, I don’t really like the word “priorities”. I would prefer to use the word “priority” because really the idea of priorities is kind of an oxymoron to me. There can only be one number one. There can only be one priority. I think sometimes we get this idea of priorities and that’s where we kind of struggle because we want our health to be a priority and we want our family to be a priority and we want our marriage to be a priority and our home to be a priority. When they’re all a priority, nothing is a priority. What we’re going to be talking about today is kind of the way that I fixed that in my own life and how I chose to create a method for myself that really made a difference and helped me keep the lord first above everything else.

Like I said, we can only have one priority, and that priority has to be the lord. It has to be him over everything else. While we’re human and we are not capable of having more than one priority, god is above us and he can have tons of priorities. Whenever god is our priority, we can shift our mindset to start valuing what he values.

I want to give you a word picture of that. What I think of it as being is imagine having six priorities, but say that each priority is like a plate. On each plate, you have one type of food. You might have one plate with mashed potatoes, one plate with gravy, one plate with turkey … I guess we’re going with Thanksgiving … one plate with cranberries, whatever it is. You have six plates that you’re carrying and you’re trying to balance all these different plates, carrying them to the table.

That’s kind of how it is whenever we try to have more than one priority. We’re trying to balance all these plates. We’re trying to keep things not falling off, we’re trying to keep things balanced in our lives, and it’s really difficult to do that whenever you have all these different priorities because as soon as you’re focusing on one it seems like every other one is kind of toppling.

Whenever you choose God as your only priority, you can start to value what he values. So now, instead of having six plates with one piece of food each on them, now you have one plate with six foods on it. So much easier to carry, so much easier to keep track of, because we’re valuing our one priority over everything else. What that means is we’re letting him decide what goes on our plate. We’re carrying one plate. We have one priority, which is the Lord, and then we allow him to put on our plate the things that he values.

What does God value? Well, for one, he values your relationship with him. That is his number one priority whenever it comes to you. He is focused on you and him, your relationship with him. Whenever we value that, everything else is going to line up. It’s just the truth. As soon as you start really cultivating your relationship with him and seeking him, you’re going to start seeing him everywhere in your life and things just start to fall into place because you’re focusing on your one priority, which is your relationship with him.

Another thing that God values is your health. He values the way that your body feels. Some people might not think that that has such a high ranking in this list, but if you’ve ever been sick chronically or you’ve been sick for a long time or you struggle with an autoimmune disease, then you know what I’m talking about. You know that your health affects everything else. Your health affects the way that you parent, it affects the way that you work, it affects the way that you do your ministry, it definitely affects your marriage.

Whenever we keep that valued the way that God values it, then we’re going to see benefits trickle down to all these other areas. So make sure that you are doing things that are good for your health. Make sure that you’re not going to a fast food restaurant for morning, lunch, and dinner every day. Make sure that you’re not just drinking soda, or that you’re not ever drinking water or you’re not getting good sleep. There’s so many things that have to do with health that are more than just losing weight or not losing weight. How much time that you spend outside, how much time you spend cultivating good relationships, those all have effects on your health. When we start to value that, we’re going to see changes in the rest of our lives.

Another area that God values is your marriage. Notice that I said marriage before I said children. I might get some flack for that. I don’t know, but I want to explain myself here. God values marriage, and he values the relationship that you have with your spouse. The reason that he values that is because marriage is meant to point people to him. Marriage is a symbol here on Earth of who he is, and so he values the relationship that you have with your husband. Once that relationship, once you value that, once you make sure that you’re spending time with him and you guys are talking and you guys are having fun together and doing all these things together and really just cultivating that relationship together, your children are going to positively benefit from that.

The next area that got values is your children. Just like I said with marriage first and children second, how your marriage, when it’s positive and it benefits your children, many times it does not work the opposite. It doesn’t work where if you’re really focusing on your kids and you’re neglecting your marriage, that will not positively impact your marriage like really focusing on your marriage will benefit your kids. That’s why I put marriage above children. Once my children are gone and grown, it’s going to be me and my husband and so I really want to make sure I cultivate those.

But whenever you value your children, that means valuing their health, it means valuing their emotional health, and their spiritual health. I am a believer that no child is too young to start learning god’s word. My boys are five and six years old and I have definitely … Disclaimer here. I should probably make this disclaimer on every episode. I am not perfect by any means. I am not the world’s greatest homemaker or the world’s greatest mom, nothing like that. I am just a sinner saved by grace doing my best to serve the lord. But my children have definitely been something that I value, and their spiritual lives have been something that I value and I’ve been really intentional about.

There’s a couple of things that I do with my kids, and you’ve probably heard me maybe talk about this if you follow me on Facebook, but my kids memorize scripture on a weekly basis. Right now, this is March. Whenever they started school in August, we started memorizing a verse every single day. They’ve memorized over two dozen verses and they know the references, and more importantly, they know how to apply it to their lives. That is big. That’s really big, because it’s not enough just to know god’s word but that your kids need to know how to apply god’s word to their lives.

That’s something that I do, and they’re tiny. They’re little, and they can memorize so much. Our kids are capable of so much. So make sure that you’re reading the Bible to them. Let them read the Bible. My boys just started learning how to read, and the other day my son was reading in Jonah, and he’s reading all these things. I thought, “Man, this kid … This is what he needs to be doing. He needs to be getting into god’s word.” Whenever we value that in our kids, whenever we make sure that we’re feeding them good foods and that we are encouraging them and teaching them and really caring about their spiritual lives, God values that, and so he wants us to value it too.

Another area that God values is your home. Again, this might seem like something that is kind of out of place, but your home is a safe haven for your family, or it should be. Your home is also a launching pad for your family. I always think about when I’m raising my boys, I keep thinking, “Lord …” and I keep praying, “God, I want these boys to be world changers. I want them to be kingdom changers.”

As soon as I started thinking that way, I really started living our home life a little bit differently. We turn off the TV most nights until they go to bed, and then we might watch something. We try to spend as much time with them as possible. We own a business, and so they come with us to work on days they don’t have school or after school. So they’re learning how to work. I think that I got … I’m trying to think of the best way to explain this.

For so many years, I was worried and scared for my kids because I thought, “I don’t want them to be influenced by the world. I don’t want them to go wayward in the world,” and I would pray that, almost out of fear. Like, “God, please send them kids that are going to influence them for the best.” Then finally, I thought, “You know what? I don’t want my kids just to survive in this world. I want them to thrive in this world.” It’s not enough for me that they’re not influenced by the world. I want them to be the one influencing their world. Once I started praying in a offensive way instead of a defensive way, it really started getting me really intentional about our time at home, and really teaching my boys how to live it out.

The same thing, when my husband comes home, when we get home from work and we’re talking about the day or we’re talking about maybe a struggle that we had, I never want him to think back and say, “I had a dream in my heart that I felt god put there, and my wife didn’t support it.” So I’m behind him 100%. I support him in that. I am a sounding board for him. That’s what your home can be. Your home can be that safe haven and that launching pad for your family when they leave out the doors to say, “You know what, I am confident in Christ and I’m going to go out there and reach my world for him.”

Another thing that God values is your work. There is something about putting in a hard day’s work that speaks to my heart, and God values hard work. That doesn’t mean that you have to be toiling and sweating all day in order to have a hard day’s work, although that is definitely a hard day’s work, but it means that you are consistently putting in effort to better yourself, provide for your family, really just giving of yourself.

That leads into the next one, which is your mission, which, ultimately, god values the great commission. That’s why we’re here. That’s why, as soon as we can say that we’re not just taken to heaven because he values the great commission, and so that’s your mission. You have a ministry, you have an impact, and you have an influence in this kingdom, in this world right now. Once you value that, you’re going to start seeing things change in your life. You’re going to start seeing a heart for people that you don’t know, a heart for people that you do know, people in your families.

So I guess what I really want to say is once we keep the lord first, once he is our only priority, then he shows us what he values. Instead of coming into a day thinking, “Okay, I have to put in this much time on the treadmill, I have to do this, I have to make this meal from scratch, I have to read to my kids, I have to go to work from this amount of time to this amount of time,” instead, we’re waking up saying, “God, I’m ready to be used by you in my daily agenda today.” As we go throughout our day, we’re seeking him. As we’re going through our day, we’re keeping him first. We’re keeping him as our only priority. Then, that’s whenever we’re really going to start seeing ourselves grow in him and really see ourselves in our lives becoming more balanced.

That leads me into my gift that I want to give to you guys, and that is a mini-course that I created called Graceful Balance. What Graceful Balance is, is it talks to you about, it goes even deeper into this idea of priority and putting the lord first and really figuring out the things that he values. If you liked this episode, there is an entire module that talks about priority, but then we also talk about reorganizing your to-do list and how keeping god first really changes your to-do list.

We read about Jesus saying that he had finished everything that he had set out to do. Whenever he was on the cross, he said, “It is finished.” Now, was every sick person healed? No. Was every person that needed a touch from the lord met? No. Was every hungry person fed? No. But he was able to say, “It is finished,” and he was able to say it was done, and we can do the same thing whenever we lay our head on the pillow every night, and so we’re going to talk a little bit about that.

Then we’re also going to talk about really simplifying your processes at home so that it can be a safe haven for your family. That is completely free. All you have to do is click the link in the show notes and enroll. You don’t have to put in a credit card or anything like that, but you do have to enroll just so that you can get access to the course online, so make sure that you do that.

I also wanted to mention another resource for all you moms out there that you listen to all these values and you thought, “You know what, my marriage, my kids, my home, I want to lead my home but I don’t know how to do that.” Well, I have a program called Lead With Heart: The Home Edition. What it is, is it has tons of resources for you as a mom. There’s devotions, there’s video lessons, there’s activity pages for your kids.

One of the modules in this course is my most popular course among moms, which is called Hidden In My Heart. It is all the verses that my verses that my boys are doing right now. I have audios of everything, there’s a downloadable sheet, but also you can track it online. As your kids learn verses, you can keep track and click Done on the ones that are finished so that you can go back and review. It also has how to apply the verses to your kids’ lives. I definitely would recommend that. It’s part of that bundle, so go ahead and check it out. I really hope that this idea of having one priority really helped you and really propels you to really seek out balance in your life. We will talk more about your ministry and your influence in our next episode. I’ll see you then.


Thanks for joining me!

Thanks so much for joining me! I’m so excited to get to know you through your comments and I hope you’ll join the conversation in the Girl of Grace Group!

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If you have a question, comment or a suggestion about today’s episode, or the podcast in general, send an email to ashley(at)ashleyvarner(dot)com or connect with me over on Facebook   or Instagram!

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