By Riley Manning
NEW ALBANY – If Anita Chism’s story is any indication, maybe it’s true that if you want something done right, the best way is to do it yourself.
The New Albany native spent two years crafting her own six-week Bible study that has now been picked up and is now carried at Lifeway stores in Mississippi and Tennessee.
“I tried the ‘Bible in a year’ plans, but I always get bogged down,” she said. “I end up just flipping the Bible open to a random passage and trying to see what it says about what’s going on in my life.”
But Chism’s study, “Priorities with a Purpose,” is much more focused. In fact, it deals with just a single verse: Matthew 6:33, which reads, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
From mother to daughter
Chism wears many hats. While working as an accountant for Baptist Hospital in New Albany, she also teaches Sunday school. She and her husband, Ronnie, have three daughters and three grandchildren.
“You know, I looked at their lives and saw them dealing with the same struggles as I had,” she said. “That’s what the study is about. It’s about priorities and daily choices we make.”
Chism employs her accounting skills on the first day of the daily study, when she asks readers to consider how they spend the 168 hours of the week. By doing so, they may see for themselves where they have spare time to study, or surprise themselves when they realize how many hours they devote to a particular thing.
From there, she breaks down each piece of the verse from Matthew, and directs the reader to examine it closely.
“The thing is, the more you study, the more you realize you need to study. It’s easier to get distracted now than ever. I tried to get people to think about how to actually apply the scripture in a practical way to their lives,” she said.
Chism said she’d laid out her own Bible study plans before, but this six-week study is the first plan she felt was in-depth enough to warrant publishing.
A life-long Southern Baptist, Chism first took the draft to Lifeway, a branch of the Southern Baptist Convention, who pointed her to CrossBooks, Lifeway’s self-publishing branch.
“They told me they’d pick it up online first, and it sold well,” she said.
From there, it was printed into a physical copy, and to Chism’s surprise, began appearing in Lifeway stores in the area.
“I didn’t even find out until a friend told me they saw a copy in Jackson, Tennessee, and they just started popping up all around after that,” she said.
Despite her surprise at the success of her study, Chism said she wasn’t certain if she would endeavor to create another study. As always, she said, she’ll follow the Lord’s lead.