When his thighs were still fat loaves of bread and his curls were still wisps of afternoon clouds, I chose what was important. I put broccoli on his plate and a soccer ball on our porch. I stocked his shelf with classic titles and his closet with overalls. I decided what was offered in his multiple-choice world. But a boy’s world doesn’t stay that way. He was always destined for a Promised Land of endless variety at his fingertips. One day he would leave the stories of Eric Carle and write his own series out of my sight, if not out of my prayers. If he could learn one lesson, he had to know to put First things First.

All life lessons hinge on this one: First things First. For a son to know what matters most and run hard after it is to choose the path that leads to life. When he entered the world from the womb, first things first. When fed to nourish his growth, first things first. When taught the essentials of learning, first things first. When wooing his heart towards his Maker, first things first. When weighing the options of opportunities, first things first. When carving his path, founding his future, and opening his heart, first things first. If we don’t get this lesson right in life, others fail to matter.


Why First things matter

Why does First matter so much? First is critical, because Second is never far behind. Second best things constantly call to boys as toddlers, teens, and young men. Good things pose distractions with potential to morph into diversions. With so many options and temptations luring sons from the little years through life, a son needs to know what matters most to inform his decisions. By figuring our what’s of greatest importance, a son is more likely to say “no” to lesser things.

If we aren’t clear on “First,” we’re at risk for succumbing to second.

When we trust God to meet our needs, we’re free to pursue His passions. “For <people> seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:32-33)

How to find First things

How can a boy know what’s first? It’s harder for a son to know what’s a priority if his mama doesn’t know what matters most. Since he learns in the laboratory of home, where early years are profoundly marked by patterns of parenting, moms have the potential to model a life of commitment to essential things. But like sons, we also face daily temptations to let lesser things suck our energy, time, and passion away from our priorities. The littlest choices make the biggest impact for moms and for sons.

  • Will I spend time in prayer?
  • Will I get the rest I need?
  • Will I eat well?
  • Will I be faithful to a church?
  • Will I speak lovingly to ______?
  • Will I have an orderly house?
  • Will I look in God’s word for help?

We find out what matters most by asking the God. As our boys see us look for and do what God says, sons frame their belief in how to know what rises to the level of a life’s priority deserving commitment. This single lesson applies in learning to play with peers, relating to family members, playing sports, responding to pornography, managing time, gaming, pursuing a career, falling in love, having a family, serving others, and walking with God. Everything goes back to a decision to faithfully pursue what matters most.

What to do with First Things

So if we teach our sons that finding what’s First is essential for their life’s purpose and success, what do we (and they) DO with what we find? When it comes time to sign up for sports, making a family decision, obeying God’s commands, planning our day, considering a career, or loving each other. Life is rarely about a single right answer or path, so where should the most important things fit once we find them?

  • When you find out what matters most, hold on with all your might!
  • When you know what should be first, run hard after it!
  • When you love who or what’s of greatest importance, love completely!
  • When you decide what’s greater than lesser things, bravely act on it!

Let’s pray for our sons:

Father, may my son be unwilling to sabotage his future by settling for second. Teach him to refuse to wander from what’s best and waste opportunities you give. Keep him from believing a commitment to first things is too hard to live. Show him that with You all things are possible and no one wants him to love what matters most than You do. Thank You for being for him. Everything You do is done with the most important things on Your mind. Teach my son to follow your example, that, “We love because You first loved us,” (1 John 4:19). ~ Amen



Psalm 119 is full of verses about following God’s ways and the blessings that come with it.

Helping Boys Make Smart Choices on Smart Phones