Well, today is winding down. Let’s look back at what was accomplished. I went to work, taught math class for two of my boys, did a plyo workout with the other, took senior pictures, played fetch with the dog, did my devotions, researched a few things about Haiti, studied some words in a new language, visited with my wife, replied to the emails that came in today, and now I’m getting ready to call it a day. Sounds busy right? It’s called a Monday.
Why are we so busy?
Honestly, I just spent a year trying to free up my schedule so I had more time to focus on the things that really matter. And the crazy thing is, I was successful…I think. I’ve been thinking about this whole issue of busyness a lot lately, and I think I may know why we are so busy. We are living in a day and age of opportunities, perhaps like never before. The world is at our fingertips, almost literally. Everywhere we turn is another chance to do something, something new, something exciting, something adventurous. For those of us that love to learn, it is almost as if we are kids in a candy store. Everywhere we turn is a new opportunity, how can we say no?
It seems to me that is what satan is hoping happens. Get us busy, get us distracted by things that don’t really matter, so we don’t have time for what does. I started thinking about what I was filling my days with, things like basketball, sports on tv, kids’ activities and the like. In and of themselves they aren’t bad things, but when they take up too much of my time so I don’t have time for what is most important, that is when I get into trouble. Not trouble like, “Oh my, my life is falling apart” kind of trouble, it is much more subtle than that. It is more like, “I will be sure to do my devotions tomorrow” or “I meant to pray for those people but I fell asleep because I’m so tired” kind of trouble.
I know, that doesn’t sound that bad. But that is just how it starts. You’ve probably heard the story of the frog in the pot of water, I think that applies here. After a long period of being busy with things that simply don’t matter in eternity, all at once I woke up and realized, “This is a major problem!” I had gotten to the point where I was thinking more about Class “B” basketball in South Dakota then I was about my brothers and sisters in Christ suffering around the world. More than focusing on what I had done that day to be a witness for Christ, I was looking forward to watching a college basketball game later that night.
Please don’t get me wrong, those things in and of themselves are not bad. In fact, they too can be honoring to God. The problem was I had taken those things and put them in a place they didn’t belong, too high up my priority list. It was not easy to get things back to where they needed to be, but by God’s grace I am getting closer.
We are all busy, and we should be. It has more to do with the “type” of busy we are. What are the things filling our schedules? I don’t know about you, but for me, when I took a good hard look at my life, there was some pretty big changes that needed to be made. I needed to be busier in prayer, busier in bible study and busier making much of God and less of me. It seems like that is the opposite of what the world was telling me, perhaps that’s a good sign I’m headed in the right direction…
Here are a few helpful tips I’ve learned over the past few years of trying to straighten up my schedule to better reflect someone who’s first priority is Christ, maybe one of them will help you as well…
1.) In the beginning, when trying to change, write your day out in schedule form. Then fill in the schedule how you desire to spend your time. (For me, this allowed me to schedule in time to read. I had to make myself do it and tell myself that it wasn’t wasted time just because I was sitting still.)
2.) Not everything that screams the loudest is the most important.
3.) As the seasons go, learn to re-evaluate your commitments. A great time to step out of something is as that season comes to an end. That way you fulfill your commitment, but your schedule gets more free over time as you just don’t “re-up” for the next time.
4.) Fight against what the world has taught you. Quiet time, times of reflection and prayer are all very important parts of life. Time spent doing those things is not wasted.
5.) Know your priorities. Telling people no isn’t easy, but if you know deep down inside that you are saying “no” for a good reason, it does make it easier.
6.) Have “meetings” with your kids, with your wife, with God. For whatever reason, if you tell someone you have a meeting at that time so you can’t participate in what they have going on, they understand much more than just saying you can’t. Family time and God time are vital. In the beginning, don’t be afraid to schedule them in, until it just becomes a normal part of your schedule naturally.
7.) Be consistent. The moment you stop evaluating how you are spending your time, is the moment those time wasters start to creep back into your life. It starts subtly, but it happens. Recognize it, fix it, and keep going. You will have setbacks, recognize them and move on.
Wondering what types of things you should be spending your time doing? Why not start by taking a look at these passages that give a glimpse into how Jesus spent His time while here on earth…
Matthew 4 – scripture memorization
Matthew 26:36-45 – time in prayer
Luke 2:41-52 – time spent learning
Luke 4:31-44 – time spent healing (serving) others
Of course the list goes on and on, this is just to get you started, you take it and run with it from here. It is actually a very interesting study to read through the gospels with the focus of watching how Jesus spent His time here, the things He did, and didn’t do.
*quote at top by Gordon MacDonald