Making a List and Checking It Twice

November 17, 2017
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 (NIV)
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Hi. I’m Amy, and I’m an obsessive list-maker.

Recently I did an inventory of all the lists for Thanksgiving and Christmas preparation that I had around my house.

There’s a huge grocery list for family meals and a list of upcoming events on my calendar. There’s a list of travel-planning tasks and one for gifts to buy for December. A list of family to contact for visits and another for Christmas card addresses. There’s a list of holiday movies to watch and a prayer list of people with big needs this time of year. November and December send this list-making girl into overdrive!

There’s so much to be done this time of year, and it’s easy to become overly task-driven. I can’t seem to resist the exciting “check!” that goes onto my list when something’s complete.

Finishing a task gives me a little rush … but it’s just temporary. Almost any task we can list — a project at work, laundry, shopping, cooking, cleaning the toilet — must be done and redone. As soon as one list is finished, another list begins. This time of year it’s important to remind ourselves that completed tasks may hype us up, but they don’t fill us up. People fill us up.

If I’m not very careful, I begin to believe the opposite, and my people get reduced to obstacles to my tasks. Instead, I want to be more like Jesus who connected with people wherever He went.

In Jesus’ economy, people always take priority over tasks.

Jesus was never too busy for people. He hung out with fishermen and visited the homes of friends. He stopped to touch lepers, dine with tax collectors and teach women. Jesus was an extraordinary example of accomplishing His mission while prioritizing the people He came to serve.

I have people in my life I’m called to serve, too. There’s my husband who needs me to close my computer and give him a true welcome when he returns home. There are my sons who still need their mama to listen to their stories of the day at work or college, even though they tower over me now instead of sitting on my lap. Some days a hurting friend needs me to put my preparations aside to give her my full attention as we move through this wonderful but busy holiday season.

So even though some days it feels like I’m being pulled in a million directions, I want to let Jesus set my priorities, and He’s made them really clear.

In John 13:34-35, Jesus’ message is plain: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Love one another.

There will never be enough hours in the day to complete all our tasks, but the question becomes how we’ll prioritize our seconds, minutes, hours, days and years. It’s easy to think, I just don’t have time to … sit and listen, stop to play, pause to put on a band aid, love. The truth is that we don’t have a time problem, we have a focus problem.

The way we spend our time reveals our true priorities.

In the end, I don’t want to be known for completing my lists. I want to be known for loving God and others well. As the most wonderful time of the year approaches, let’s adjust our focus. Let’s set time aside for needed tasks, but as we follow Jesus, let’s learn to prioritize people, letting “Love one another” top every list we write. Checking that one first will be the most satisfying “check” ever!

Dear Lord, my plate is overflowing, and all that needs to be done is overwhelming. Instead of losing myself in tasks this holiday season, let me pour myself into people. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


1 Peter 1:22, “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.” (NIV)


Amy Carroll’s book Breaking Up with Perfect is a great resource for creating a better list of Christmas expectations. Pick up a copy today!

Do you long for children to know that salvation and satisfaction come from Christ alone? With the holidays fast approaching, now’s the perfect time to order Lysa TerKeurst’s children’s book The Sweetest Story Ever Told: A New Christmas Tradition for Families. Teach your children how to tell the story of Jesus’ birth in a brand-new way — by making Christmas cookies! This interactive kit comes with the story of Jesus, as well as recipe cards and cookie cutters. Click here to learn more and purchase your set today!


Visit Amy’s blog today for a mindset shift and download a December “To-You List” that will help set you up for Christmas joy.


Evaluate the lists you’re making for this time of year. Are they more task-focused or people-focused?

How could you include your people to complete your essential tasks in a way that’s more fun for everyone? Be creative and determined. This Christmas is going to be the most joyful one yet!

© 2017 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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