We live in a world that is always moving at a breakneck pace. We can prepare meals in minutes or seconds in the microwave. We have fast food, fast computers, and fast transit. We want up to the second news, stocks, and sports scores. We have speedy checkout lanes, rush delivery, and priority mail. We have deadlines upon deadlines upon deadlines, and time spent idling is time losing money and productivity.
When we are not working, our free time is as packed. We have a million diversions that could engage us at any moment. We can play a quick five minutes in Temple Run; we have softball, soccer, and bowling leagues to fill up that time; we book tickets to games, to concerts, to any number of events. We push ourselves to fill every second of every day.
If we stop to think about what we’re doing, we justify to ourselves by saying that life is fast. We have to be able to keep up; we have to be able to roll with the punches, to go with the flow, to swim with the big fish, to run with the big dogs, to land on our feet. Doing anything else means we’re somehow less, that we’re losers, or – worse – being unproductive.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. We say all the time that we are in the world without being of the world, and I think that applies to how we should look at our time. Ephesians 5:15-17 says:
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
Colossians 4:5 also says:
“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.”
If we’re thinking differently about our time, then we are putting things first that the world might not. It might mean we give up a business dinner or trip, so we can have more time with our families. It might mean we parents give up a game or event we want to go to, so we don’t have to give up time with our kids. It may mean we spend more time studying from God’s word than we spend studying our Fantasy Football League (full disclosure: I have no idea how Fantasy Football works).
Some of these sacrifices may have consequences. We may get passed over for a promotion because we leave a meeting early or don’t take as much overtime. We may have friends who don’t want as much to do with us because we don’t want to give up time with our kids in favor of guys or girls nights out. But will these things really matter in the end? When we look back on how we used our time, what will we regret more – failing to spend it more on personal success and entertainment, or failing to invest that time into saving souls and raising our families?
I invite you to join me in slowing down. We always have the choice to slow down, to exit the hustle and bustle, to take things off our calendars, and value the time we have with those who mean the most. Stop counting down the time until the Next Big Thing. Stop overbooking. Stop trying to fill every second of every day with diversions. This life is short, and we should have no desire to rush through it. Take your time; savor it, and invest that time into the things that really matter. Not only will you find yourself more available to do the Lord’s work and be good fathers, mothers, and children – you might also find yourself a little bit happier.