The First Thing First

by Ray Reuter on January 16, 2014

FirstStephen Covey gets much credit and praise for prompting us to put first things first. However, St. Ignatius of Loyola is the true genius. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises begin with the FIRST PRINCIPLE & FOUNDATION below …

Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul.

The other things on the face of the earth are created for man to help him in attaining the end for which he is created.

From this it follows that man is to use them as much as they help him on to his end, and ought to rid himself of them so far as they hinder him as to it.

Therefore, we must make ourselves indifferent to all created things, as far as we are allowed free choice and are not under any prohibition. Consequently, as far as we are concerned, we should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short life. The same holds true for all other things.

Our one desire should be choosing only what is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created. 

That makes the goal of life pretty clear! So in the midst of pursuing “other things,” we want to be sure to put the first thing first in our lives. Namely, praise, reverence, and service to God. We are instructed to use “second things” only to the extent in which they help us live the “first thing.” And, if a second thing gets in the way of living out the first thing, then we should eliminate it.

The trick is to be indifferent to all created things. When we are indifferent, we can find the proper balance between “using” things and “ridding” things in the pursuit of the first thing.

This is a good “check” as we roll into the new year in pursuit of our goals and desires. Are you putting the first thing first?

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