Friday, June 22, 2012

First Things First

Keeping first things first is a challenge for most of us. Our work, our families, and our devotion to God all compete for our attention. Sometimes our priorities get mixed up, and we have to do some realignment to get them back in line.

My priorities in life have been, and continue to be, to keep God first and then my family above all other interests. That means I try to put my family above my work. That is not always easy. In fact, it can be one of the greatest challenges any of us face.

I would like to share an example of someone who was very successful in his career as a professional, but was a failure to his family. His name is John B. Watson. He is one of the most famous psychologists in the history of psychology.

Watson appeared to have it all—talent, good looks, charismatic personality, and a successful career. However, his life is a study in personal disaster. Nowhere is the tragedy more obvious to me than Watson’s life. He wrote many books that were widely received, but the one he wrote on parenting was a real financial success. What an enigma that Watson authored a book on parenting while he himself was a failed parent. He had multiple affairs, a problem he seemingly could not control, with one of them being a notoriously public affair that ultimately led to his divorce and termination from John Hopkins University. However, the most deficient part of his credentials was his own parenting skills. Both his sons suffered serious depression. One son committed suicide, and the other had a mental collapse after fighting suicidal impulses. Watson’s daughter suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts and attributed her depression to have begun around the same time as the scandal in Baltimore.

Two of Watson’s granddaughters had problems. One committed suicide, and the other suffered from depression, alcoholism and suicidal thoughts. Although Watson was a brilliant scientist and made an enormous contribution to psychology, he was, at the same time, an abject failure as a husband, father and grandfather.

Watson is the ultimate example of wasted talent and mixed up priorities. I personally believe that next to my relationship to God, my family is my most important endeavor in life. I have learned that priorities never stay arranged for very long. That’s why we must constantly evaluate what the first things are and then keep them first in our lives.[1]

[1] Schultz D. & Schultz S., (2012). A history of modern psychology (10th ed.).  Belmont, CA Wadsworth. PP. 217-218.

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