Prioritizing Life’s Demands

“Prioritizing Life’s Demands,” Building An Eternal Marriage Teacher Manual (2003), 49–51

Doctrinal Overview

President Spencer W. Kimball spoke of “the need to do the things that matter most without leaving the other things undone” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1976, 70; or Ensign, May 1976, 46).

When we strive to balance important priorities in our lives, we increase our chances for success in all aspects, including marriage and family relationships. Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained, “Perhaps if you, too, search your hearts and courageously assess the priorities in your life, you may discover, as I did, that you need a better balance among your priorities” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 14–15; or Ensign, May 1987, 13; student manual, 276).

President David O. McKay taught, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1964, 5).


Happiness in marriage and family is more likely when we focus on the things that matter most.

Student Manual Readings

Selected Teachings from “Priorities and Balance” (276–77)

“Keeping Life’s Demands in Balance,” Elder M. Russell Ballard (280–82)

“‘One Thing Needful’: Becoming Women of Greater Faith in Christ,” Sister Patricia T. Holland (366–72)

“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (83–84)

Suggestions for How to Teach

Discussion. Read the following statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard: “One of the greatest challenges of this life is the ordering of priorities. If we do not do this wisely, then things that matter most in life are at the mercy of things that matter least” (“Be Strong in the Lord, and in the Power of His Might” [CES fireside for young adults, 3 Mar. 2002], 6).

Write on the board the headings Temporary and Eternal. Ask students to list things that are temporal or temporary and things that can become eternal for us. (“Temporary” might include money, cars, furniture, vacations, fame, clothing, political power, and sports. “Eternal” might include marriage, family members, priesthood, service, knowledge, a resurrected body, testimony.)

As students expand the list of things that can become eternal, help them discover the eternal nature of marriage, a resurrected body, and priesthood power.

Suggestions for How to Teach

Discussion. Read through Selected Teachings from “Priorities and Balance” (student manual, 276–77). As you read, discuss questions similar to the following:

  • Elder Neal A. Maxwell. Why is it important for us to “know our real priorities”? How did the Lord set the example for us?

  • President Spencer W. Kimball. How can we compare the importance of balance in our lives to a piano keyboard?

  • President Ezra Taft Benson. What happens to our lives when we put God first?

  • Elder Dallin H. Oaks. What examples can you give that our priorities determine what we seek in life?

  • President Ezra Taft Benson. What should be one of our first priorities?

  • Elder John A. Widtsoe. Which comes first, family or church? Why?

  • Elder Neal A. Maxwell. What should each parent and grandparent do? Why?

  • First Presidency letter of 27 February 1999. What is the central message of this letter from the First Presidency?

Share the following counsel from Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“How do you determine your priority? Ask yourself: What do I really want, most of all? Compare your answer with the high standard revealed by your Creator. He said you are to ‘seek not the things of this world but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God, and to establish his righteousness; and all … things shall be added unto you’ (JST, Matthew 6:38; see also Matthew 6:33a). You build up the kingdom of God as you place your family first. A husband’s highest priesthood duty is to love and care for his wife, to bless her and their children. A wife’s highest calling is to love her husband and nurture their children. As you serve the Lord, know that your ‘duty is unto the church forever, and this because of [your] family’ (D&C 23:3)” (Identity, Priority, and Blessings [CES fireside for young adults, 10 Sept. 2000, 5; Ensign, Aug. 2001, 11–12).

Suggestions for How to Teach

Discussion. Summarize the first two sections of “Keeping Life’s Demands in Balance,” by Elder M. Russell Ballard (student manual, 280–82). Discuss how reviewing our covenants keeps balance in our lives. Briefly review each of the principles for balancing life’s demands in Elder Ballard’s speech.

Student manual discussion. Look for priorities mentioned in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” (student manual, 83–84). The following list may help your discussion:

  • Parents have a responsibility to “love and care for each other.”

  • Parents have a responsibility to love and care “for their children.”

  • Parents should “rear their children in love and righteousness.”

  • Parents should “provide for their physical and spiritual needs.”

  • Parents should teach their children “to love and serve one another.”

  • Parents should teach their children “to observe the commandments of God.”

  • Parents should teach their children “to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live.”

Ask students to go back through the list and ask “How do we …” at the beginning of each principle (for example, “How do we love and care for each other?”). Provide answers and discuss them.

Discussion. Summarize the article, “‘One Thing Needful’: Becoming Women of Greater Faith in Christ,” by Sister Patricia T. Holland (student manual, 366–72). Review the struggles Sister Holland went through trying to keep life’s demands in balance. Share how she came to find peace in her life and the specific ways she found balance. Or assign this article to a student for an in-class report.


Student learning activity. Ask: Has God ever given us a scripture that succinctly summarizes His priorities? After student responses, read aloud Moses 1:39 and the third paragraph by Elder Maxwell under Selected Teachings from “Priorities and Balance” (student manual, 276). Testify to the students that by following the Savior’s example we can see our life’s mission and set our priorities accordingly.