But First…

“I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.” Luke 9:61

I still remember the call. I was being offered my dream job in Arizona, and I hesitated. I hesitated because it meant leaving my family, financial security, ministry, and friends. I still hear my boss saying, “Do you trust the Lord?” and at that moment, I didn’t. I took it to prayer, and it was my sister who told me, “Take a leap of faith and accept the job!” So I did, and I have never looked back.

This Gospel from Luke is a challenge to all of us who have inserted a “but first” into our response to Christ calling us to follow Him.

We will start a family, but first, we need to buy a house and get financially stable.

I will write the book that God has placed on my heart, but first, things need to slow down.

I will go back to school, but first, I need to save money.

I will go pray in the chapel, but first, let me finish planning the Life Teen Retreat and Life Night.

I will quit my job, but first, I need to find another one.

I will go to rehab…I will reconcile with my family…I will start going to daily Mass…BUT FIRST.

Whenever I set a “but first” before something God places on my heart, I am not following Him. As hard as that is to say, I’m not. I’m following my will versus His will. In these moments, I am not guided by the Spirit, and instead, I’m giving into the desires of the flesh that St. Paul talks about in Galatians 5: 16-18.

So many of us prefer comfort versus the unknown. We would rather remain angry or host the best pity party around rather than reconcile and forgive. We remain stuck versus accept the adventure God has planned for us. We choose slavery instead of the freedom God designed us to abide in.

If you are anything like me you were raised to make a plan, save for the future, and never quit a job until you have another. It’s why being a missionary invigorates and scares me simultaneously. But that is what God calls us to be – missionaries on a journey who are always looking forward, never looking back.

Pope Francis calls us to be “missionary disciples” who respond with our entire being the moment Jesus calls us to follow Him. The apostles did (John 1:41), the Samaritan woman did (John 4:39), and St. Paul did as well (Acts 9:20). So what is holding us back from following Him?

Following the Lord can be multiple small choices in your day:

  • Praying a prayer with your kids before putting on the radio in the car on the way to school.
  • Praying a prayer of thanksgiving when you pick them up for a way they saw God in their day.
  • Waking up 20-30 minutes early to read the Scriptures of the day or the Devine Office.
  • For every minute you are on social media, spend equal time in prayer.
  • Recognizing the need for help in ministry and delegate tasks to Core to provide more time for relational ministry and prayer.
  • If someone or something prevents you from following the Lord, ask God to guide you in repairing that relationship or relinquish the thing that has a hold on you.

Following the Lord can also be giant leaps of faith:

  • Quitting a job that is emotionally, spiritually, or physically toxic and stealing your joy
  • Ending a relationship or seeking reconciliation in a relationship
  • Asking for accountability for an addiction you need to overcome
  • Moving away from every comfort and rushing into the arms of Christ

You see, we all have “but firsts” in our life. It’s like we are grown children with a loose tooth who cover our mouths in fear of discomfort. We want to pull out our tooth when we are ready for it to come out, but God has a plan to make room for a stronger tooth to come in.



Spend some time in prayer and recognize what God is calling you to in ministry, relationships, life, and your spirituality. Then get rid of the “but firsts” that are preventing you from following God. Your smile might look like this for a while, and people might scratch their head at what may appear to be a rash decision in your life, but if God has willed it, you will experience true freedom.



Image via FlickrCC 2.0 Logo added

About the Author

Tricia Tembreull

Tricia Tembreull is a California girl with a Texas-size heart for hospitality. She said yes over twenty years ago to God’s call to youth ministry and never could’ve imagined the adventures and people He had planned for her to encounter along the way. She serves as a Parish Coach for Life Teen and joyfully travels around the globe training, empowering, and praying with youth ministers. When not on a plane, you can find Tricia in a church, spending time with family and friends, in the kitchen cooking up something delightful, or on the beach for an evening walk.

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