Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Priorities of Life

As things go in this online community, the death of Michael Jackson led to Michael Hyatt writing a post about that, with a link back to a post about Creating a Life Plan. I used to have a life plan, but I got off of it when I didn’t get married by the time I was twenty-four. That used to bother me—a lot. Now, ten years later, I don’t even remember that I’m not married most of the time. I find it much easier to say, “Whatever you will, Lord.” It isn’t that I have a problem with people making a life plan, but I would have missed out on some really good things if I had stuck to my plans.

Mike also suggests identifying key accounts, ordered by priority. I’ll show you my list and then we’ll talk about it:

  1. God

  2. Family, Church and Friends

  3. Self

  4. Ministry

  5. Finances

  6. Career

  7. Hobbies (including writing)

God must come first. If he doesn’t, I’m in sad shape. For the second item, I included all three because I have a real hard time keeping my family, my church and my friends separate. They all seem like family to me. I stuck them above self because I would rather my own health suffer than to see these people hurting. I would give them the shirt off my back. Fortunately, most of them feel the same about me, or I would be going shirtless. Ministry goes below me and that lines up with what the Bible says when it tells us not to be weary in well doing. A lot of my income flows out into ministry and when it is necessary I don’t have a problem with reducing my savings significantly for the sake of ministry, so finances come below it, though I believe that attitude has actually helped my finances instead of hurting it. I don’t do anything halfheartedly and I pour myself into my career as well. I enjoy my career, most of the time, but I see it primarily as an enabler that gives me the freedom to do the more important things and some of the less important things as well. Lastly, there are my hobbies and I have several, not the least of which is my writing. Of course, writing is also a major part of my ministry, which I mentioned above.

I can see that my list is much different than Mike’s. So, what about yours? How is yours different?

Three Actors and No More

Tritagonist—there’s a term you don’t hear much. In a Greek play, the tritagonist was the third (and least) important character. In novels, we aren’t limited in how many people we can use in a scene, so we might not think as much about the deuteragonist and the tritagonist. These characters could be anyone. When the deuteragonist is the antagonist, the tritagonist may be the sidekick to the protagonist. Or, if the tritagonist might be the antagonist or someone else.

The reason we might want to think in terms of protagonist, deuteragonist and tritagonist is that it is difficult to keep tack of more than three characters at a time. Consider the work of Agatha Christie. At times, she would have several characters in a room, such as when a murder was committed or when the killer was revealed, but during the investigative process, she often used a three character setup, one investigator talking to a couple or two investigators talking to one suspect.

Even when a scene involves four or more people, it is helpful to focus the primary conflict to three people. Imagine a classroom full of people. The teacher is talking and a young man raises his hand, “Are you saying…” The teacher responds and a young woman raises her hand, “But what about…” The teacher amends her response and now the young man has something to say again. We could throw more people into the mix, but it only leads to confusion as we try to keep up with the different points of view.

But then you consider Twelve Angry Men and it sort of blows what I’m saying out of the water. It is certainly possible to have several people actively involved in the conversation, though even with it, there are small sections where two or three are primary and the others say nothing, but the conversation moves to a different topic and a new group emerges as the primaries. In the key parts of the play, it is often two key players hashing it out, though those players change throughout the play. In a novel, it might be helpful to use a similar approach, rather than thinking we must have all of our characters talking.