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Picture this: It’s 1973, and you’re a wide-eyed 16-year-old, brimming with excitement as your parents usher you into an auto dealership to buy your very first car. Emotions run high as your dad engages in an intense, sweat inducing negotiation with the sales manager. Finally, your parents write the check, hand you the keys, and you are off—in a brand-new Ford Pinto.

But here’s the problem: the rushed 25-month development of the Ford Pinto led to a catastrophic flaw. In rear-end collisions, the Pinto’s aluminum frame crumpled like a tin can, and its fuel tank sat dangerously in the rear, inviting explosions. To compound the horror, the doors locked from the inside upon impact, trapping occupants in a fiery death. Tragically, dozens met this lethal fate.

This tragedy underscores the danger of disordered priorities. Ford’s key concerns— affordability, profitability, and production efficiency—neglected one critical factor: safety. When Ford engineers discovered this safety flaw, Ford executives conducted a cost-benefit analysis, and determined that it would be more economical to pay for lawsuits than to make the necessary improvements. Production continued as scheduled.

The Ford Pinto stands as a stark example of what happens when priorities are out of order.

Our Disordered Priorities

Regrettably, many Christians fall into the same trap as the Ford Executives—creating a roadmap for their life based upon a skewed hierarchy of priorities. These priorities may not inherently be wrong but are merely disordered, resulting in dramatically variable life outcomes (occasionally disastrous).

Consider how some Christians might create a roadmap for life using disordered priorities:

  1. Your Passion: What do I want to do?
  2. Your Strengths: What I am good at?
  3. Your Opportunities: What pathways are within reach?
  4. God’s Will: What is God leading me to do?
  5. God’s Purpose: What is God passionate about?

Now let’s take a look at a real-world scenario. Imagine that a young person is deciding where to attend college, and uses this disordered roadmap:

  1. Your Passion: “I really want to attend the college my parents went to.”
  2. Your Strengths: “I am good at art—I will study that!”
  3. Your Opportunities: “I think I can get an athletic scholarship for swimming.”
  4. God’s Will: “This is what I will do! Oh wait, I should pray about it first…”
  5. God’s Purpose: “I think God wants me to do this, so I will!”

None of these priorities are dangerous in and of themselves. For instance, there is nothing wrong with looking at the opportunities in front of us (in fact, there may be wisdom in this). However, it is the ordering of the priorities that leads to a lifetime of trouble. Consider that the process at hand starts with a question of passion: “What do I want to do?” This is where the trouble begins—at the beginning.

The popular advice to “Follow your passion” can often steer us towards a lifetime of self-destruction, not unlike those trapped inside a Ford Pinto following a rear-end collision. Jeremiah 17:9 cautions us against following our passion, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Should we truly base decisions on our desires when our hearts can deceive us?

When it comes to our priorities, we may believe we’ve hit the bullseye. The problem is that we are shooting at the wrong target.

Reordering the Priorities

So, what does a more Biblically faithful approach to life’s roadmap look like? It’s fairly straightforward: invert the priorities to put them in the right order.

  1. God’s Purpose: What is God passionate about?
  2. God’s Will: What is God leading me to do?
  3. My Uniqueness: What are my opportunities, strengths, and passions?
Priority #1: God’s Purpose

God’s purpose is His glory praised, through Jesus, among the nations. This is what He is most passionate about. Reflect on the words of Isaiah 42:8: “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” God is not one of many gods; He is the only true God, and He jealously desires for his glory to be praised among all peoples. This is God’s purpose.

Imagine if we anchored our life’s roadmap first in God’s purpose. If God’s purpose is for His glory to be praised, through Jesus, among the nations, then it implies that we play a part not only in glorifying Him ourselves but also inviting others to do the same.

Priority #2: God’s Will

Discovering God’s will is not about waiting for divine messages in the clouds. It involves a few fundamental practices of the Christian life: First, we should seek to renew our minds (Romans 12:1-2). As we immerse ourselves in scripture, we nourish ourselves with the spiritual food needed to determine God’s will for our lives. Second, we should listen to wise counsel. Proverbs 15:22 reminds us: “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed” Third, we should pray to ask God for wisdom. The late Tim Keller defined wisdom as “knowing what the right thing to do is in the majority of life situations where the moral rules don’t apply.” This is the type of wisdom that God grants us when we ask it of Him (John 16:24).

Priority #3: My Uniqueness

While your uniqueness should not dominate your life roadmap, it should not be disregarded either. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, and this should be acknowledged (Psalm 139:14). However, our uniqueness must flow downstream from God’s purpose and His will for our life. At times, we may need to set aside our individuality and personal preferences in deference to higher priorities (God’s purpose and will). Consider questions like:

  • Does this opportunity align with God’s purpose and will?
  • Can I utilize my strengths in a way that honors God’s purpose and will?
  • Do I possess genuine passion for this, considering God’s purpose and will?

Imagine, in 1973, if Ford had placed safety at the top of their priorities list. Dozens of lives might have been spared, and they could have still achieved affordability, profitability, and production efficiency. Perhaps not to the extent they hoped, but with safety as the paramount factor, their reputation would have remained intact.

Life is a wonderful journey, an unfolding story waiting to be written. Will yours echo the well-intentioned yet tragic tale of the Ford Pinto? The outcome of your life is intricately tied to more than just your selected priorities; it lies in the artful ordering of those priorities—a roadmap to a purposeful, fulfilling existence rooted primarily in God’s purpose. As you align your heart with God’s purpose, you will craft an eternally meaningful life, where each decision becomes a testament to the wisdom of rightly ordered priorities.

Luke Womack



The Author

Luke founded AIRO after learning about the unfinished task while in college. He has a Bachelors in Business Administration and has an unrelenting drive to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who do not currently have access. His favorite part of the day is coming home to his wonderful wife Allison, and children Vera, Dawson, and Pearl (born in 2016, 2017, and 2019).

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