The other day I was doing something rather menial and then something fairly simple went wrong. I remember feeling like I don’t have time for this, really? It only took a few seconds more and I was ready to stress out. Time! It’s a common cause of frustration. We’re talking about emotions on Sunday mornings, and we can get very emotional about time or what we feel is the lack of time. Tempers can flair when time is misused, or we feel others don’t respect our time.
In regard to managing time, it is more difficult than money. If we need more money, we can approach it from two different directions. We can cut our spending or find a way to increase the amount of money we earn. That could be done through a second job, selling some things, winning the lottery (just kidding) or some other creative (legal) way. However, when it comes to time, we can only cut something out, we cannot add any time to a twenty-four-hour day. So, we commonly find ourselves saying things like, “If only I had more time.” If someone approaches us about getting involved in a worthy cause and we just feel it won’t fit our schedule, then out comes the answer, I’d love to, “if only I had more time.” You walk through the garage and trip over the dusty old treadmill that hasn’t been used for quite a while and think to yourself, if only I had more time.
The irony in all of this is, whether or not we admit it, is that we take pride in being busy. If someone else complains about being busy we think to ourselves, “they don’t know what busy is.” So, we are in this rat race where we complain about being busy but idolize it at the same time. It seems to me that time controls us rather than the other way around.
How do we get a handle on time? By no means do I claim to have done so, but I think we start with a stewardship approach. Again, when we are talking about money this is where we go – to stewardship. We must understand that all that we have belongs to God, and we are called to use it responsibly for His Glory. Finances are but one resource that God blesses us with. Other resources include creation (nature), talents, the Gospel and yes, time. If our time belongs to God here are some things to consider:
1) We should make sure we spend ample time with the Giver of time. A great use of our time is spending time with God, not just being busy doing “the Lord’s work”. Remember the Mary and Martha story? Jesus was at the home of Mary and Martha, Mary was enjoying Jesus’ company, taking in what he had to say. Martha was getting frustrated in the kitchen because Mary wasn’t helping. She tried to put Jesus in the middle and wanted him to say something to Mary. Instead he said this, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)
2) Make relationships a priority. This was Martha’s issue-she wanted to accomplish the task of being a host. But Mary approached being a host by listening. This isn’t just about spending time building our relationship with God and making that a priority. We should make sure we are honoring and building other relationships as well. Whether with God or others, being is just as important as doing.
3) Don’t allow time to steal our joy. If we are so stressed out over time, then something’s wrong. If the fruit of the Spirit has been lost in time and is not evident in our lives, then our attitude toward time has to change. Remember it is a gift from God, so God does not want His gift to cause us to sin. If we are angry, selfish, rude, envious and so on because of how we are using our time, then we need to change our approach. Being the busiest person around isn’t worth the price of being miserable. Time is meant to be valued, appreciated and enjoyed.
The next time you find yourself saying, “If only I had more time,” take a few minutes to evaluate how you use your time. It’s possible the issue is really whether or not we are good stewards of the time we have. Enjoy your time!