“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Don’t worry. This isn’t a post about money, per se. However, I do want to write about probably your most precious resource—your time. How do you spend your time? I’m sure you’ll answer the normal—work, family, friends, etc. But I want to go a little deeper: Where do you spend your time and why?
I can tell you that I have spent a lot of time over the years doing hobby or leisure type activities. Besides my addiction to porn, I’ve logged hundreds of hours playing video games. I’m sure I’ve spent even more time binge watching shows and movies.
But, what do I have to show for it? Has it changed me for the better? Has it deepened my relationship with God and others? If I am truly honest about it, the time was spent simply to satisfy myself. These were all self-medicating distractions to keep my mind off of what was really going on in my life. Instead of seeking God and His presence, I chose to isolate and sequester myself in a fantasy world. Now, I want more and these hobbies and distractions are not fulfilling me.
So what to do? First, I chose to get rid of one of the big distractions—video games. No not all, but almost all of them. The decision was a personal and logistical one. I wanted to free up some of my time to focus on activities that would help me become the man I’m supposed to be. In addition, by selling off most of my collection, I could free up some extra cash and space in my closet. A double bonus!
Relationships take time and effort. When I reflected on it, I haven’t really given God much of either. You could say that I half-heartedly worked on my relationship with God last year. I just didn’t carve out time everyday just to spend with Him. So, this year I set out to be different. I likened it to the giving of First Fruits.
The festival of First Fruits is where the Israelite tribes would bring literally a portion of their first crop of the season as a sacrifice to God. It was a sacrifice of their property sure, but it was also a symbolic sacrifice of their time and talents as well and that is what stuck with me. Who and what am I giving my time to? I had to admit for a lot of my life, the answer to that question was “me.” That is no longer acceptable.
Giving my first fruits of my time means I need to be intentional—distractions threaten to pull me away from both God and my family. So how do you and I become intentional?
I’ve started small. First, everyday, before I get out of bed, I greet God. I thank Him for the new day and tell Him that I love him. Then, I carve out time each morning for prayer, study and reflection with Him before I go to work. (Yes, this means I get up early. As in before the sun.) In addition, I try to talk with Him throughout the day. God is never too busy to hear me.
With my family, I’m looking for opportunities to spend time with them both together and individually. What it comes down to is deciding to spend my time on those people and things that are good for me. Much like deciding what food to consume, I want to be conscientious about what consumes my time.
What can you do to become more intentional? Here are 3 ideas:
1. Do a time study. Write down how you spend your time throughout the week. You might be surprised with how you have budgeted you most precious resource.
2. Use that time study to decide what you would like to pare down and what you would like to spend more time doing. How can you achieve a better balance?
3. Write it down and share this new plan with your spouse or with a close friend. Writing down goals gives them more weight. It also helps to sometimes have outside encouragement!
Remember, to be realistic and patient with yourself. Change is hard and takes time. Claim the small victories. Remember to “Live in the day and measure in the decade.”