ESSAYS FROM WEST OF 98: TIME

By James M. Decker

 

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
— Psalm 90:12
 

I’m taking a one-week detour from my series on vacant buildings. This topic has been on my mind and I felt compelled to share. It’s funny how the Good Lord’s timing works. As I was preparing a Sunday School lesson on Sunday morning, I stumbled into this verse from Psalms and some great wisdom on using our time wisely. Then, this week hit. It’s been just one of those weeks with too many things to do and not enough time to do them well. The to-do list has had too many tasks that were either unpleasant or necessary drudgery. Sometimes the schedule just lines up that way. Sometimes it’s our own fault for procrastinating those tasks. Sometimes it’s a little of both.

When the Bible speaks about managing our time, it does so from a holistic perspective on living our entire life well. It doesn’t tell us how to manage our time. Instead, it gives us some very simple principles. Put God first. Keep God at the forefront of all you do. Remember that we’re here on Earth for only a short time, so use that time well. In 1 Corinthians 10:31, Paul’s very familiar instruction to us is an excellent time management reminder: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” This is not a magical secret to success like you hear from motivational speakers and authors trying to sell you their books and seminars, but it’s much more powerful.

We spend a lot of time in our life being “busy.” We are busy, we tell others we’re busy, we ask them how busy they are. Americans glorify being busy as if it’s a good thing, because we see “busy” as a sign of success and prosperity. People ask how we’re doing, how work is, how the kids are. We say we are busy as if it is a badge of honor. But is it?

Let’s have some real talk. Have we asked ourselves *why* we’re busy? Are we busy (or boasting about being busy) to impress others? Are we busy because we are glorifying material success? Or maybe, do we sometimes use being busy as a disguise for laziness? We can be like the kid in school who is doodling on his paper, but when the teacher looks at him, he stares at the paper very intensely to fool the teacher into thinking he’s concentrating on his work. If I sit in the recliner and stare blankly ahead, that feels like I’m doing nothing. That seems lazy. But if I’m scrolling through social media or filling my time in some other “busy” way, then I’m totally doing something, right? I keep myself busy doing nothing, while pretending it’s actually something.

We make ourselves busy because our society encourages it. Glorifying being busy is a plague on American society. It wears us down and it is draining to our own mental health and self-worth. It is good to work and to work hard, particularly when you are pursuing your passions or improving the lives of people around you. It is not good to be busy for the wrong reasons or to be busy just for the sake of it.

Earlier in Psalms 90, the author (Moses) writes, “A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by.” In the grand scheme of God’s creation, our individual days are but a speck of time. Our lives are short and pass by quickly. Let us make sure we use them, every day, for the right reasons, to glorify the right things.

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James Decker is a lawyer, farmer, and mayor in Stamford, Texas, and the creator of the forthcoming “West of 98” podcast and website. He may be contacted through Facebook at facebook.com/james.decker. Listen to our podcast interview with James here.

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