I was a young twenty something youth leader hungry to obey the Lord. LaVerne’s father was a Mennonite pastor and he often hosted pastors in his home when they came to speak at his church. I loved sitting with these men of God and asking them questions about the Lord and leadership.

One weekend he hosted a Mennonite denominational leader who had accomplished so much for God’s kingdom, and I could not wait to talk to him. I asked him what he has learned after all of these years of ministry and leadership. He looked me in the eye and said, “The things I have done in ministry are nothing compared to my daily walk with Jesus. I just want to stay close to Jesus.” I never forgot that day. It made a lifetime impression on me.

1 John 5:21 tells us to “stay away from idols” and Ezekiel 14:3 speaks of those who “have idols in their hearts.” Often the idols in our hearts are those things other than God that we seek for joy and significance. If we want the Lord to speak to us and guide us, our hearts cannot be filled with desires that rise above our love for Jesus. Our love relationship with Jesus is top priority.

I have learned that the Lord and my walk with Him is top priority. Then it is my relationship with my wife, LaVerne. I am gone on international ministry trips so much of the time, I plan date nights and weekends away with her often a year in advance, because she is priority. I tell her she is my first disciple, and I mean it.

When it is all over, all that counts for eternity is our relationships: with God, with our spouses, our children and families, and with those the Lord has brought into our lives to serve together in His kingdom.