Priorities vs Willpower

Tough Decisions Ahead Road Sign

Life is comprised of decisions.  Successful people are people who have made good decisions.  Unsuccessful people are people who have made bad decisions.

You are where you are today because of the decisions you have made.  If your life is a mess, it is because you have made poor decisions.

As leaders, don’t blame the people you lead for the results you are getting.  Those results are the fruit of the decisions you made.  The better decisions you make, the more that you will see your leadership skills improve.

To walk into the destiny God has for you, to enjoy life, to get out of debt, to improve your health, to improve your marriage – you need to make good decisions.

Now there are two problems with making good decisions:

  1.  Knowing what decision to make
  2. Making the right decision when we know what it is

Now, I know people who are in the first realm – they genuinely don’t know what to do.  Sorry if that is you, but I’m not writing this post to help you.  My advice is to pray to God for wisdom (James 1.5) and to seek counsel.  But I have found more people are in the second boat – they know what is the right thing to do, but they don’t make right decisions.

If you are 100lb overweight, then you are not ignorant of what you need to do to improve the quality of your life – eat less, eat right, exercise more.  If you and your wife are constantly rowing, then you don’t need counsel to know act with kindness, forgive, be romantic, show grace.  If you are failing financially, you need to budget effectively, long term plan, find extra work, find better work.  None of these things are obscure – in fact, the solution to most problems is normally painstakingly obvious.

So what we need to do as leaders is be in a position to help people who know what to do but don’t seem to want to do it.  People normally blame these sort of things on willpower – I wanted to not eat the extra slice of cake, but I didn’t have the willpower; I tried being nice to my husband, but I didn’t have the willpower, I wanted to get up and run but I didn’t have the willpower, I know I didn’t need another pair of shoes but I didn’t have the willpower.

As leaders as well, we often blame our bad decisions on a lack of willpower.  I didn’t have the mental strength to confront person X when they interrupted the meeting; I didn’t have the willpower to deal with such and such head on.

Let me set you free today – these decisions have absolutely nothing to do with willpower.   Trying to summon up mental strength to do something difficult will always fail.  You can’t give up smoking that way, you can’t give up biscuits that way, you cannot give up spineless leadership that way either!

These decisions are not based on willpower but on priorities.  Our priorities determine our decisions, not our willpower.

If you want to weigh less, then weighing less has to become a higher priority than eating the cake.  If you want to give up smoking, all the benefits of giving up smoking have to become more of a priority than that next cigarette.  If you want to confront someone who is destroying your business or church through their attitudes and through their negativity and criticism, then a church or business free from internal competition and strife needs to be a higher priority than keeping someone around who just adds to your headcount or whatever other benefit they bring.

The problem isn’t willpower.  It’s priorities.  People who miss church when the message was going to set them free and help them, so they could watch the football. Their problem isn’t willpower, it’s wrong priorities.  We are one day away from our annual summer conference and some people are telling me: well, I might be there.

That’s not a function of willpower, but of priorities.  The conference isn’t that important to them.  There is no might about being at work, about going out with their friends, about their hobbies and interested – but there is a maybe about God’s Word because of their priorities.

How do we get our lives on track to where they need to be?  We need to determine and work out our personal priorities.  Somewhere high should be the Word of God, our relationship with God and local church – the only thing on earth being built by Jesus himself.  In terms of our life, we need to work out our priorities by realizing who God has designed us to be and what we are doing in our future.  God doesn’t want you to die at 55, and nor do you – so realizing that will make exercising and quitting smoking a priority in your life.

We need to think forward to develop good priorities, the further forward we can think and dream, the more potent our priorities become and the better our decisions become.

So take some time today to consider and imagine where you want to be next year, next five years, next ten years, next twenty years.  Let that image determine and set your priorities.

And if you need three months’ worth of spiritual growth in four days, turn up tomorrow at Heal the Nations ( and have a great four days with us listening to the best grace teachers in the United Kingdom.

Published by Tree of Life Church

We are a growing network of growing churches, with services weekly in Dagenham, Guildford, Watford, Croydon, Brentwood and Dorset. We are also planting churches in Cambridge, Suffolk, West Midlands and Hemel. Find out more at, and

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: