How to Turn Your To-Do List Into Acts of Love

by Gail Armatys, M.S. 

Life Purpose Coach/Facilitator

HeartSong Life Purpose Coaching Center

I heard a sermon on Sunday. It preached straight to my heart.  Ever have that experience?  When this happens, I trust God is sending me a personal message.

I may have squirmed just a bit.  Maybe I even looked around to see if anyone knew the pastor was speaking directly to me, just sayin’.  Then I took heed and took note.

This twenty-minute sermon was for me, summed up in three simple words: ‘People Before Tasks’.  These words added a certain humorous note to the sermon but were not really intended as the main theme of the message.  Yet, it was the part God had prepared my heart to hear. Ugh.

I have known that this ‘people first’ attitude is essential to living out my daily walk with Christ.  Still, it did not hurt to hear it again. (Actually, it did hurt a little.  You know; the truth hurts.) And, it doesn’t just mean people first in the big, organized service-based opportunities.  It means starting somewhere smaller – like in our hearts and in our to-do lists. Bringing heaven to earth through our every day tasks.


“Put ‘love others’ at the top of your to-do list.  As it trickles down it will create acts of love.”  –Gail Armatys

I must admit, much of my life relative to this idiom, People Before Tasks, in the daily scheme of things has been a BIG fail.  Not that those I love and who love me would complain. Let’s just say I’ve always been a better doer and completer than a talker and lingerer.  Maybe my task verses people priorities were somewhat out of order.  Still, I’m not entirely sure I had it all wrong…


At this particular point in time, my youngest son is the sweet age of six or seven…long time ago.  He and I are working on projects of some sort…can’t remember exactly what. His endeavor was probably schoolwork inclusive of poster board. Mine most likely had something to do with helping him finish his project. Ahem…I did not say ‘doing his project for him’; I said ‘helping him’.

Anyway, as we work on our separate but ‘together’ projects, I hear his voice.  Yet, I manage to remain fixated on what I am doing and basically, I suppose, ignore him – a rare exhibition of my ability to concentrate!

Next thing I know, I have two little hands, one on either side of my face, turning my gaze toward his. Though his words were absent his message was so loud it could not have been mistaken.  His eyes met mine and they gently spoke, ‘Look at me. Pay attention to me.  Let me know you care about what I am saying.  Let me know you are aware of my presence.’

Happy Young Family Teaching Baby To Walk

This was such a simple and powerful act that I’ve never forgotten it.  It is reminiscent of the small but life-changing actions of Jesus: a tender touch that heals, a kind word shared, time spent with friends, a story within a story, a glance that says, ‘Come, look at me.  Pay attention to me. Let me know you care about what I am saying.  Let me know you are aware of my presence.

There is a symbiotic relationship between our tasks and the people placed in our lives. They work together to bring meaning and sustenance. They provide daily stepping-stones to life fulfillment. When we simply set out to get ‘er done, completion has no real reward. But, when our tasks are addressed in love for and with others, whether at home, work, in our community or as part of a much larger humanitarian effort, our to-do list becomes a blessing and we have lived in awareness of God’s presence. This is heaven on earth: acts (our to-do list) done in love (people first)

…Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.  1 Cor. 15:58


Lord, we praise your name and ask that you direct us to go about doing only what you call us to do. Remove all the extra stuff that weighs us down. Help us to know that whatever to-do’s you set before us each day, the real accomplishment is to complete them in love. Remind us that we are always in your presence and you care that we notice.  And please, Lord, show us that our distinct assignments are more than just items on a list. They are acts of love.  In Jesus’ precious name I pray, Amen

Purpose Steps

  1. Make time at the beginning of each day to… Be still and know that I am God. Psalms 46:10   Your day will begin in peace.
  1. In person, on the phone, email or text – love can be shown and known.

Think about how you can bless others as you complete your to-do’s. Did you see them?  Were you kind? Do they feel heard? Did you smile (may need to think emoticon here)? Do they know you care?

  1. Give thanks for the opportunity and ability to be a blessing through your daily tasks, taking time to linger in love and maybe, just maybe, for checking everything off your to-do list!


Listen to Your HeartSong 

With Every Act of Love by Jason Gray

Click here

Live the Song Written on Your Heart.