“You are wasting my time”
“This is such a waste of time”
“I don’t have time to be doing this”
When I was a child I never really understood phrases like this. Yes I would say it on the playground to try and sound grown to the other kids but really I never got it. Why was everyone in a hurry? Why was time such a thing? Where was it going and why was it always at risk at being “wasted”? Entering adulthood it finally dawned on me – time is truly our greatest commodity. It is the currency we use to trade for various things: money, friendship, relationships, self-care, recreation and sometimes nothing at all. Time is everything we are all subject to it and the clock never stops thinking.
The older you get the more responsibility you get. The more your time and how you use it determines the direction of your life and so it becomes more valuable. The change from going to crèche to learn social skills to holding down a job, paying bills, maintaining friendships and a relationship if you have one, is gradual but also a bit of a shock to the system when it happens. The 2 hours at church feel like enough of a sacrifice, now we have to also do life groups, participate in outreaches and have one on ones with tiring people. With what time??? Where do we squeeze in time for our greater family of fellow Christians? Or with people as a whole?
I think people get frustrated because at the root of it, we don’t care enough. Not that we don’t care at all, just not enough and that’s where the problem needs to be fixed. Because if we call ourselves believers and believe that the main mission in life is to sanctified and made like Christ for the glory of God and enjoy him on this earth, then that will inform how we live in every aspect, especially our time. If we believe that there is a dying world that needs to know the Love of Christ, it should reflect in how we spend our time. However we can all admit that for a lot of us that is not the case. We are driven by very different goals be it career, family, money, power, you fill in the blank. Unfortunately, because it is not as loud as the multiple unanswered emails in our inbox, so often our faith tends to fall into the background when it fact it should take centre stage.
So while various things like a career, family, children, money etc. are great and beneficial and can be blessings from God, if we miss God himself, they can slowly take over and before you know it you stop going to bible study on Wednesday because you are too tired but not tired enough to not go to the gym or hang out with friends on Thursday. It’s a matter of principle.
I have personally been convicted with how selfish I am with my time yet I get a bit frustrated when people cannot or unable to make time for me. Because I know I need them, I need people, we need each other. How do I grow as a Christian if I am not engaging with other believers? How do I fight sin when there is no one to call me out on it, especially when I am blind to my own destruction? On a good day who reminds me to praise the Lord and on a bad day who reminds me he is still sovereign, especially when my bible reading and prayer time has been so low (because I just don’t have time right?)
A great part of the ministry of Christ was spent with people. Engaging with them one on one and sometimes in massive groups but he was always present and investing in people. We can learn from that. To be present even when it is uncomfortable. The apostle Paul desired to be with God during his incarceration but chose to be obedient to God’s purpose for his life and use his time to edify the rest of the body. He saw value in the things of God and therefore saw the value in pursuing that than rather simply waiting for his end. It was all about time and how he used it.
God designed us to live in community and we see it in every aspect of life however for some reason when it comes to our faith we tend to think it is not important. Yet it extremely is. So we have to participate. It’s hosting the dinner at your house despite being tired and always enjoying it in the end. It’s taking the 20 minute drive to advise a new convert. It is accepting the date when someone asks for coffee just to see how you are doing. And sometimes it is washing the dirty cups after service because there was no one else to assist.
It’s not easy but it is possible. My prayer every day is for God to make his desires my desires because he knows best. So time and how we allocate it may be a weak point for you, as it is for many of us and that’s okay as long as we are making the effort and are repentant. If you are convicted after reading this, start small and send that WhatsApp to that person you keep saying you will check on. Start somewhere.
They say if you want to know where the heart of a man is, see where he spends his time (and his money). May our hearts be focused on Christ and the broken world that definitely needs to know his love?