It had been a full day for him. A road trip with friends, full of activity and excitement. Upon our return home he asked to rest and watch his favorite television show. It was after dinner, as I was instructing him to get ready for cleaning up and then prepare for bed, when he realized he had little time to play that day. The fatigue from the day combined with disappointment over lack of playtime created a river of tears.
We talked about time and how he had used it that day. I pointed out how he had chosen to spend it on tv and the computer rather than playing with his toys. “Think of time like money” I said, “there’s only so much of it and then it’s gone.” We talked awhile about the best ways to use his time.
It was later while by myself that I realized how poorly I use my own time.
Could it be that my children have learned from me to use their time unwisely?
How often do they find me at the computer? How often am I working on a chore or some activity that doesn’t include them? How often do they find me irritated when I am interrupted from said activity?
Since they’ve gotten older and don’t require my constant attention, I’ve found myself busy with other things while they play together. I mainly intervene when they are having a disagreement. It is great to have more uninterrupted time to work on chores or projects but it also means I have less interaction and involvement in what they are doing. In the process of my boys getting older, I’ve become less of a coach and more of a referee.
As I’ve thought more about the discussion I had with my son, I can feel God pushing me to be more intentional with what I do with the hours he gives me each day. Jonathan Edwards, a famous Puritan preacher and theologian, made a personal resolution that he did not want to be using his time in any way which would displease the Lord, should he return that very moment.
I want Jesus to find me using my time for His glory.
Paul said in Ephesians 5:16,17
“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.”
How can I be wise in my use of time, not using it foolishly but use it according to God’s will?
First, I can learn from Jesus by how he spent his time while on earth. His priority were people and more specifically, relationships with people. He knew his time was limited and he had a message to deliver, a message of salvation. He invested much of his time in his relationships with the disciples, teaching and training them. But our Lord also knew when it was time to rest. There were times when speaking to the crowds became tiring and he left to be alone. He was known to often go to the olive groves to be alone with his Father. He never neglected his relationship with his Father, no matter what else he was doing. It was this relationship that gave him the strength to continue fulfilling the Father’s will.
Secondly, I need to remember that we are all given a calling to fulfill while we are here. We all have a short time on this earth, some shorter than others. Each calling is different and it’s important that we seek in wisdom to understand His will regarding our calling. Whatever that calling may be, we need to make that a priority. Right now in my life, my family and my church are big priorities. It’s the stage of life I am in right now. First and foremost, my relationship with God is top priority. Time spent in the word and in prayer is the most important thing I do each day. I also have a big responsibility to raise my children in the Lord; I know that’s his will because scripture tells me it is so. I also know I am to be connected in fellowship with a body of believers, encouraging and serving others in that body and to those in the community to whom our church reaches out. I also know that’s his will because scripture tells me it is so.
Being intentional with my time is what’s important. When my children see the investment I am making in my relationship with God, they will learn how essential that is to spiritual growth. When my children see how intentional I am in loving and serving our family, they will benefit from the nurture and teaching they receive. When they see me active in the body of Christ, they will know how important it is to build the kingdom of God and serve others. While I do need down time and I do have chores and other responsibilities, my use of time should reflect my priorities.
When I had that talk with my son, I spoke of time in terms of money because I knew he would understand. I now look at time as an investment. When I use my time for a specific activity I think of how will it benefit the investment. What will the outcome be for that investment of time? Is it worth using my time on a specific activity?
And aren’t my children one of the best investments I can spend my time on?
In the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, the landowner entrusted his servants with different amounts of money to take care of while the master went away. Two of the three invested the talents and was able to give their master a good return on his money upon his return. I don’t want to be like the third servant and just bury my time somewhere where there is no return. When the master comes back, I want to show him that he received a good return on the time he gave me.
What about you? How has God specifically called you to use your time?