Setting Priorities (1 Nephi 6)
In 1 Nephi 6, Nephi briefly describes the decision-making process he followed to decide what type of information to include in his own personal record, sometimes referred to as the "Small Plates of Nephi." According to the chapter, Nephi considered the following options:
- The genealogy of his ancestors (his family tree)
- A full account of his father's life and experiences
- General items of interest to any reader
- Spiritual accounts that would persuade people to come to God
He decided not to include his genealogy since it was in his father's record, just making the simple note that they were descendants ("the seed") of Joseph. His father's life and experiences would certainly have been worthwhile to record, but it would have filled the available space (remember, these were the small plates of Nephi). Likewise, he didn't want to fill up the plates with general information but chose instead to use the limited space to record information that would help bring people to God.
The process that Nephi used to decide what to include in his record is referred to as "setting priorities." Not to be confused with choosing between right and wrong, the setting of priorities needs to be employed when we have multiple acceptable options and some limitation (time, money, space) that prevents us from choosing all of the options. The word "priority" itself indicates that we are deciding what comes before (prior to) something else.
The most valuable resource we have (which clearly has a limit) is the time that encompasses our life. Deciding how to use this time is the most important setting of priorities we will ever do, and it determines how much value our life on earth produces and how prepared we are for the life to come. As a result, seeking God's direction is critical in deciding how to make best use of the time allotted to us.
The chart shown below is one I developed a few years ago for a seminar on priorities. The way to view it is that the activities higher in the chart have, in general, a higher priority. I say "in general" because there will always be times that, for example, a family event comes ahead of a church event or we have to work when we may have preferred to do something with our family, etc. There is nothing wrong with doing any of the things listed, and all should have some time in our life devoted to them, just in the proper priority (note the columns that list possible consequences if the priority given is too low or too high) and with a proper balance.
If Priority Too Low
If Priority Too High
|Following God's Direction||
Suffer in life
No spiritual growth
Could lose soul
|Family life could suffer|
No relationship with kids
|No time for church, helping others|
No money to do other things, give
|No time for church, family|
|Leisure Activities||Burnout||No time for important activities|
Even if we don't need an actual chart to keep our priorities straight, we should have some sense of priorities in our life. Our time is limited, and if we want to use that time to its best advantage, we must make sure the things most important to us are accomplished.
If Nephi had tried to put too much information on the small plates, he would have run out of space before the most important information was recorded. If we spend too much time on low-priority activities, we may run out of time before the most important things are done.
Editor's Note: Are you enjoying this Book of Mormon lesson series? We're putting it on pause for the next few weeks to make room for awesome Christmas content, but — never fear — it'll start back up again after Christmas. Keep an eye out!
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.