August 23, 2016

The First Thing First

“…[Jesus] is the head of the body,
the church;
He is the beginning
and the firstborn from among the dead,
so that in all things
He may have preeminence.”

~ Colossians 1.18

Thinking about how to address this week’s topic – getting off to a great start in the new school year – has been a challenge. After all, a “great start” can mean so many different things depending entirely on the people and circumstances involved.

Most who use public or private institutional schools are launching a “new school year” right about now – but some have already started and some won’t begin for another two or three weeks. Additionally, each school’s “culture” and learning environment is unique to itself. And then there are the homeschoolers. Though many home-educating families follow a traditional calendar and are, thus, starting a “new year” right now as well, some have designed other types of schedules so that they might be in the middle of a “school year” this month. And still others literally go continuously and year-round with no discernible “new start” at all.

A “great start” also means very different things for different people within those educational settings. For example, the expectations held by a five-year old and her parents look nothing like what a 17-year old and his parents are aiming for over the next several months. A “great start” for a classroom teacher varies, depending on what age children he serves. And what teachers want to emphasize can be markedly different from what students and their parents are thinking about, and are, perhaps, as different as night and day from what homeschooling families are considering.

However, I was recently reminded via a series of lessons through which I led my daughters that – at least for those who claim Christ as Savior and Lord – there is actually ever only one ultimate goal in every endeavor of life. Namely, as Colossians 1.18 states, “that in all things [Jesus] may have preeminence,” or first place.

With that in mind, there’s one question we can each ask of ourselves – whether we’re a student, parent or teacher, whether we’re at home or in a huge urban school, and whether we’re thinking about the start of a whole “new school year” or, simply, the beginning of a new day: What would it look like – in terms of my heart, soul, strength, and mind (Luke 10.27) – to put Jesus Christ first in my life?

You can use that question within your position and stage of life to set goals for yourself – short-term goals for today and long-term goals to aim for over the next several months; goals for your attitude and words (Matthew 15.18); for the friendships you continue and begin…or, perhaps, choose to end; for spiritual priorities like spending time in the Word and in fellowship with other believers; for what you choose to do (and not do) with your body; for the nature of the content you decide to teach or study.

To some extent, of course, the answers to such questions will be as unique as each individual. However, the desire to give Jesus preeminence really is the best “great start” each of us could ever have. So if you want a great start, put the First Thing first.

Photo Credit: Celestial Meeker

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