Life has big decisions, but one outweighs all the rest. If we don’t prioritize it above all else, nothing else matters.
What Comes First?
This discussion starter is based on priorities. It’s simple to pull off; all you really need are a bunch of 3X5 notecards and a marker.
Write each of the following on its own notecard:
Spend time with friends
Attend sports practice
Go to youth group
Sleep a lot
Go to class
Talk with mom
Eat a lot
Become a Christian
Go to church
Help a friend in trouble
If you have a really large group, you might want to make several piles of these notecards.
When everything is set, ask the small group members to put the notecards in order from most important to least important (top to bottom). Observe where students want to put "become a Christian," but don’t say anything. Also, observe any disagreements between the group members. Tell them to come up with a group consensus of priorities for the group (one order that best represents the whole group- that they all pretty much agree on).
This was pretty tough wasn’t it? I mean, all of these are important, are they not? At any given time, most of these could be as important as any other part of our lives. But there’s one in that list that rises way above all the rest in every situation. Here’s the deal: If we never make it a priority in life to become a Christian, nothing else that we do in life will be able to compensate for that poor prioritization. Let’s talk about it now to see if you agree.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: As we get started, let’s all take a second to share our names and the biggest priority we faced TODAY.
- ASK A FEW: How easy was it for you to prioritize the list?
- ASK A FEW: Why do you think that our group didn’t fully agree on every single item?
- ASK A FEW: Which of these priorities – if any – could you leave off the list forever and still be alright?
- ASK A FEW: Which of these priorities do we invest most of our time into? Why?
- ASK A FEW: How do you think God would prioritize the list? (Leaders – If you want to, and have the time, you can go back and do the whole list over again from what the students believe is God’s perspective.)
- ASK A FEW: If you had to prioritize one of these as THE MOST IMPORTANT in life, which would it be? (Leaders – The answer is “becoming a Christian.”)
- ASK AFEW: Why do you think that matters so much?
Read the following passage:
ASK SOMEONE: What evidence from this story tells us that the rich man made a lot of good decisions? (Leaders – This isn’t a trick question. The rich man was successful in managing his wealth. He knew how to provide for his own needs. He cared for his family. Etc.)
ASK SOMEONE: What evidence from the story tells us that the rich man fouled up the greatest priority in life? (Leaders – He went through his entire life without ever bowing his life to God. As a result, he spent eternity separated from God.)
ASK A FEW: If this rich man could do his life all over again, do you think he would change anything? What and why?
ASK A FEW: What lesson can you learn from this rich man’s list of priorities?
ASK A FEW: Since you get to pick the priorities for your life, which one of these should go first?
ASK A FEW: What happens if we don’t make life’s biggest priority, PRIORITY ONE?
Luke 16:19-31 (NIV)
19 "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 "The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.' 25 "But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.' 27 "He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.' 29 "Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.' 30 "'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' 31 "He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'"
In our time together, we got a chance to discuss priorities. Some of us learned that the biggest priority in life is becoming a Christian. Granted, some of us already knew that, and have done that, but for some of us, this comes as big news.
And well it should. We looked at a story that taught us one simple truth: no matter what we accomplish in life, if we don’t become a Christian, little else matters in the end.
When I say “become a Christian” I simply mean asking God to forgive you of your sin, placing your trust in Jesus, and promising to follow Him every day for the rest of your life. Yes, it’s easier said than done, but that’s what makes this PRIORITY ONE in life!
Let me give you a great way to think about it. Steven Covey, one of the world’s best leaders and authors in the whole world puts it this way in his book First Things First.
In the middle of a lecture, the presenter pulled out a wide-mouth jar and placed it on the table, beside some fist-sized rocks. After filling the jar to the top with those fist-sized rocks, he asked, “Is the jar full?”
We could see no more rocks would fit, so we replied, “Yes.”
“Not so fast!” the presenter cautioned. He then got some gravel from underneath the table and added it to the jar, filling up the spaces between the bigger rocks. Again, he asked, “Is the jar full?”
This time we replied, “Probably not.”
The presenter then reached for a bucket of sand below the table, and dumped it into the jar, filling up the very small spaces between the rocks and the gravel. Once again he asked “Is the jar full?”
“No!” some of us shouted.
He smiled and then grabbed a pitcher of water and filled the jar to the brim. “Is the jar full now?” he asked us. None of us were brave enough to answer.
He then asked us one final question: “What is the point of this lesson?”
One of the students answered, “If you work at it, you can always fit more into your life.”
“No,” said the presenter. “No one can put anything else into this jar. It is totally full.” When no one else dared to answer, he calmly said, “The point is, if you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never be able to get them in, so put the big rocks in first.”
When it comes to our lives, the big rock is Jesus. We must put Him first. He’s not willing to be second rock or fifteenth rock. He wants to be first. Will you let Him be first?
Some of you really need to talk about this so we’re making some of our adult leaders available after we close in prayer. If you haven’t taken care of PRIORITY ONE in life, please go and speak confidentially with one of them. You’ll be glad you did.
Close in Prayer
Written by David R Smith